BLUEPRINT Issue Nine
Who We Are
Blueprint (Est. March 2010) is a student-run literary magazine at the University of Michigan. We originated from the North Campus community, and now collect the art and writing of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and Ann Arbor community members from all over the school and city. Evident both in the diversity of our staff and magazine content, our mission is to cultivate a space for anyone to be creative, regardless of academic background or experience.
Editorial Board Editor in Chief Natasha Gibbs
Submissions Chair Naitian Zhou Secretary Tanuja Tase
Social Media & Events Chair Vellia Zhou Treasurer Katelynn Mulder
Assistant Submissions Chair Aly Gessner
Cover Images Polar Bear Collage Flamingo Collage by Hannah Levine-Drizin
Our Team Aly Gessner Natasha Gibbs Yingchao He Sonia Lee Kristina Mallabo Sam Mathisson Himaja Motheram Katelynn Mulder Rachel Rettie Tanuja Tase Naitian Zhou Vellia Zhou
Special Thanks To
©2020 The written and visual contents (“Work”) of Blueprint Literary Magazine are protected by copyright. Third parties (persons other than the original author) may not reproduce Work published in Blueprint without first obtaining written permission from the author. Under all circumstances the author retains rights to reprint, publish, license, and/or sell their Work.
ArtsEngine Arts at Michigan University of Michigan CSG University of Michigan Engineering CSG University of Michigan College of Engineering Office of Graduate Education
Letter From the Editor This issue of Blueprint is coming to you many months late, which, for an annual publication, is not ideal. Regardless, please enjoy the magazine and all the art and writing within. From a poem about worms to a piece on an in-app food delivery platform, I think our contributors this year have spanned the full range of the human experience with their work. 2020 has been a difficult year so far, to say the least, but I hope Issue 9 brings a smile to your face. Blueprint stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement. All proceeds earned from the sale of Issue 9 will be donated to BLM Detroit. For a list of petitions to sign, donation campaigns, and other helpful resources, please use your phoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s camera to scan the QR code below.
Natasha Gibbs Editor in Chief
Table of Contents Page
Organic Temptation Sam
Why is She Staring at Me?
On the Island in the Middle of the Forest
In the Cards
Ekaterina Makhnina Poetry
mona miller 1
most days i take my- Elizabeth Farmer self too seriously
Ekaterina Makhnina Poetry
Trees in Bloom
Anatomy of a Wave
Birdsong on a Silent Reservoir
Hashtag Ana Girl
Mutant League Football
Brought To You By
Get Out of My Cuphead
The Legend of Lake Angikuni
For My Love
Siege of a Heart
School safety and falling in love
Hold ___ Together
Sleeping at Last
Ash to the Future
To the Silence
A Study of Memory
This Space is Under Construction
Take the Fall
by Marjorie Gaber
Organic Temptation by Sam
The deep lush glow of her skin I smell her intoxicating, aromatic scent The effervescence of youth Fertile, and new, she has ripened on the vine in my absence; My eyes drink in the sight She beckons, with blooming adolescence Should I despoil her inviolate beauty? Untouched, pristine. The world has not yet left its scars But, who am I to turn down such an opportunity... I bite into the juicy, fresh tomato Delicious
7 To explain: There are a million things inside me, and love is the least of them all. I do not have much to show you, but I will show you all I have. These are my passions, however small. They belong to me, and if you look inside them, I will also be there. In this kind of way, we are endless in our own arms.
Tiny Passions by Jena Vallina
To the beginning of a new sentence, It has been occurring to me lately that I have lived most of my life trying to be understood by someone else. I am not new in any of this, of that I am already well-aware. But as I venture forward past unmarked corridors and yet another locked door, I realize that all this while I have been building a roof onto myself with the words that I have spoken or put down in the desperate pursuit to be acknowledged. There is something liberating, I think, in the saying of something that can only be understood by yourself. I think you understand this too. We need to hear our voice on our own, without filtering it through the ears of another person. But what are our words but a thing that we lay down on the floor, asking to leave and begging to be followed? Each word becomes its own little arrow directed towards an invisible target in the distance. Give me your love, your sympathy, your rage; within these syllables I am telling you what I want from you, and I need you to respond and create something palpable out of the otherwise white noise. Fill my existence with your answers, feed me with your intentions. Give me something to hold onto, to take with me where I travel and to look back on, so I can remember that once I was not so alone.
To the last plum in the bowl, I am soft and yet not rotten. I run a mile every morning until I can feel my heart inside me. I drink water like salvation. I breathe like I’m saving up for something. I love you too much to look at you, yet not enough to let you see me. I do it anyways. I would love you in the dark if I could. I hate it when you look at me and I miss you when you don’t. I think I might be in love with temptation most of all. I never do anything with forbidden fruit, but I might linger too long in the garden. To the colors I miss when I walk home in the dark, You never wrote a letter, but I am writing you now because in truth I always wished I could have seen you one last time. I hope it does not hurt you to say that I hardly even remember you anymore. The sound goes tinny in my ears whenever I picture you, but if I close my eyes, I can still see your reflection behind the bright lights. You are smaller every time. Forgive me, I never knew. I was seventeen when I kissed you in the backseat of a beat-up car as your mother’s Nina Simone sang of lilac trees. There were gum wrappers stuck between cracks and a faint scent of tobacco, although I knew you never smoked. It was cloudy but not raining, and I imagine we would have sat there all day breathing in the stale air had I not kissed you first. There is no point in my being cruel and telling you what you must have already guessed; and indeed, you will never read this. I was seventeen. That is not an excuse, but an apology. I apologize for meeting you when I was seventeen and too young to know you, but in truth I could never have been older until after you. It’s crossed over me often that I ought to be embarrassed, weaving eternities out of a thing so finite; but I will tell you anyways, that there was a year somewhere between us where not a day passed by without a thought to you. I will be honest, there was a moment
8 when I realized that I was returning to you each day; and afterwards, the daily realization was no longer a naturally occurring phenomenon but a checkpoint between sunup and sundown, a gray afternoon reminder I masochistically set for myself: that I am still thinking of you, and therefore not forgetting. What I am saying is, you put me in a cycle. I am out of it now, and it is selfish of me to want any more of you, and for that reason alone you do not have to read this. But you ought to know. I am only ever fond when I think of you. And in truth, I am thinking of you now. To my own voice learning how to whisper, Who does it hurt to fall in love with the back of the moon? If she never knows I am looking. If I am only building sandcastles underneath her. Nobody sees me on my knees, if I kneel in the dark. You cannot know what I pray to, when I pray alone. Blame the slamming door on the open window, the wind was too strong and carried my voice further than I desire. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hold me responsible for whatever you once heard spoken. I promise you, I said it in a whisper. To the taste of salt when I bite my lip, I am lying on a bench, and I am writing you in the silence between passing cars. We could live here, but not for too long. Like everything that is first beautiful, the quiet has a habit of tiring after too long a gazeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but beauty was never made less in spite of the seerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s absence. She is beautiful with closed eyes too. I loved you before I knew you. I wrote a poem after we first met, but I lost it under a pile of torn out papers and discarded notebooks. I rummaged through it for hours, kneeling in the rubble and reading every ugly word I ever wrote, just to find a piece of me with you inside. But I never found either of us, if we were ever even there to begin with. Our words are taunting the tip of my tongue, but they get so easily lost, tangled in the arms of all
the other words which came afterwards. The bittersweet tragedy of words gone unspoken. To love someone, and to never even know them. I wrote that about you; it is only the first part I have forgotten, the sweet that never knew it would someday grow stale in my mouth. It was something about living in the cold and knowing that soon you will be warm, so soon and not yet, but almost. It is inevitable like the summer, and like everything else that we dream into being when we are too cold and tired to do much else but dream up warm and forgiving things. Perhaps we are better off never knowing what I once believed, before I knew anything at all. It is getting cold now, and these changing seasons make me wish more and more that I had someone next to me. I have been lonely for so long, and still have not learned how to be alone. To the shortest song I ever heard, I do not think it is enough just to spit into the flower buds. I do not think it will help them grow at all. To whatever she said that I could not hear because the music was too loud and my heart was beating between my ears, I suppose I need to preface by saying that I am alright. At this moment in time I have no desire to hurt myself, and in saying this I make a promise to you. I am promising to keep still. I will not move and upset the balance. I will not place you in the path of my flying shrapnel, will not make myself known to you or to anyone else, but rather will become like the air: only witnessed in its absence. But I promise to you now, you will never have to witness me. I am always holding the same feeble chain of words in front of me, begging you to believe me. But do not worry. I understand it all too well. You do not have to know me but know this instead. I will not hurt myself to hurt you. I suppose it is my own fault for trying to make a home in your lungs. Please try to
9 understand. There is a pain unique to me. You cannot have it. Listen to me now, I do not mean to exclude you. But you need to know: I was never going to be yours. We drink too much and trick ourselves into believing we aren’t strangers, but what we seek isn’t under the lid of any jar and it certainly cannot be held together by hands that shake this much. There are moments when I feel like I live in my body, and I look into my reflection and can say with surety that I am the one looking back. But other times I am acutely aware of the chemicals guiding my hand, the soured reaction I stir myself each day, and feel at once like the stranger and the old friend he used to be. We make elixirs together, in search of a fountain to drink from that will let us live forever, but moments pass just as quickly behind closed eyes and are just as lost to us when they go. We are too young to be lost in this haze. I wish to wake you from your slumber, but I do not think you know how to live outside of a dream. And I do not want to make you see what you are not ready for, because I am the thing you are not ready for, and I look so different in the daylight. You should know one more thing. I knew it when you left. I held you tighter than I ever had, and watched you go. It was too early then for sleep, but I could feel it same as any other last embrace, all the dreams I would come to find you in again and again. Asleep in a fog, part of me remembers what I can no longer see awake. I do not know if you are still lovely there, or if this is all that I can recall come morning. My memory loves you, even as I grow cold. To what smells so good at three in the morning, The tip of your ears. The thumbprint above your lips. The crook of your elbow. I felt your phantom limb even before you went away. You were always going to hurt. Don’t say a thing—it would be enough just to see you tomorrow. To the very last page I hate to turn,
You laugh at me. Do not deny it. I will not deny it either, because I laugh at myself too. I see myself in every single pair of eyes, and I know what they see just as well. I am so young and so stupid, but I am also so young. I walk where I don’t have to go and do not look behind me, because to be lost has always been like being home to me. I am promiscuous with my love but delicate with my pain. I swallow the seeds of every fruit I have ever tasted. I write letters just to leave you inside them, and I am writing this because I am young and because I have never been able to learn from my mistakes. But I forgive you the way you must forgive me, and indeed I am learning to forgive myself too. You asked me so many times that the words leave holes, and these I cannot fill for you. There were more before you, the way there is always more dirt gathered in my nails, and in this way I might never be clean. There will be more after as well, because I love too freely to save it, and I have never regretted putting love into the world that was not there before. I need to tell you this, because today nobody asked me what I ate for breakfast. All the times I have thought I was old I was young, but I feel too old right now. Yesterday I saw a cat with yellow eyes cross the street, and we were in love as any two given animals ought to be. It was enough for me then, to see and to be seen. But today I am left wanting more. I do not know how long I will be young, because I’ve always been young, and I do not know another way to be. I do not know how long I will make mistakes that can still be cleaned. I like to think time has made me better, but perhaps it has only made me smaller in my own eyes. I hide behind my age because I am afraid to be permanent, and you know it dearly, that desire is a clock ticking down. I will love you for as long as we can hold our breath—and whatever this place is called, know it truly and sincerely as anything I might say, and know I believe it still, is and always will, be yours.
Little Forest by Intersteller
And because I have always been in the business of writing postscripts, please know: There are times when the seasons collide, and on this humble crossroads, winter and summer share a bed if only for a night and the sun still warms the leaves even as they depart. I lived there once, and so did you, in a season somewhere between us. I was promised cold and yet I still remembered the warm, and indeed I loved and needed them both as much as any two arms which can meet at my heart in the center. I knew you and I loved you, once in an autumn clear, and when it is January and we have passed away, I will take walks not in a graveyard but a festival of you. I
will smile at the creatures that pass, because they are not ghosts but invisible friends, and I will remember happily, contentedly, that wherever the time goes when we are not in the same room together, there was an autumn. We split it between us and shared it in our hands, and however briefly the crumbs of us lasted upon fingers and tongues it was enough. It was enough just to know you. So then, thank you, for the autumn, and for being where I could see you, and for sitting next to me. You didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to do that. You did it anyways. Believe me, I loved every second. Good-bye, you, lovely, full of love, I love. That is all I had to say.
“Why is She Staring at Me?” by Caslyn Rodriguez
On the Island in the Middle of the Forest by Eli Friedman
There’s something to be said for structures which serve no purpose. They may have, once, but now they live As memories, like photographs. Beauty for the sake of beauty. There’s something to be said for structures which exist only to exist. Because we have decided that it is important To sometimes sit on cool grass on a warm day And look at something nice. There’s something to be said for buildings which will outlive us. That perhaps after the last man has taken the last breath They can remain, alive. And one day the world might thank us For foolishly, heroically building that which just looks nice. That which is just to be.
In the Cards
by Ekaterina Makhnina I passed her twenty dollars And she handed me the deck I shuffled it; the cardstock Was worn. I flicked a speck
“Well, this looks fun,” I chuckled, Then shifted in my chair. Light glinted in the seer’s eye And sharp pins in her hair.
Of something red-brown off it And my fingers drew a card: A fellow swinging from a tree, Hands tied and body scarred.
“It is grave news,” she told me. Her eyes were black as pitch, And when I met her gaze I saw Her face contort and twitch.
She sighed; I drew another And placed it on the boards – A person face-down on the road, Run through with seven swords.
A shadow fell upon the cards And crawled across the floor... I shifted in my seat again, Eyes flicking to the door.
I hesitated, looked at her – Her eyes were warm and brown – She nodded, and I overturned A tower tumbling down.
That door stayed shut for hours; The seer’s small house stood In silence, save the steady drip Of blood into the wood.
mona miller 1
by Marjorie Gaber
Flamingo Collage by Hannah Levine-Drizin
16 lumen measure it could have been beautiful. the house where all the kids came after school. its strong doors an open invitation. please, come in. step into the pale house with five members on the fifth mile of a town that never really was. there’s a picture of the pale house sitting atop its hill, a perfect driveway and lawn and paint and everything shining light. looking beautiful. but by the virtue of a ripening comes rot. and when i sleep in that house i see that picture on the backs of my eyelids. like when i stare at the sun for too long a time. crimson. violent white. a deep black where color should be. i tell pale house of all the pretty ways it could have been home. run hands over walls and windowpanes and kitchen counters. kiss the staircase, touch every floorboard. i press my head to the oak of my bedroom door but don’t look in. and the weight of object permanence settles upon my body like septic shock. i whisper against the wood. ask pale house to speak it back to me. one day you will leave this place but it won’t ever leave you. and you will spend your life learning why sometimes that’s worse.
most days i take myself too seriously
by Elizabeth Farmer
roundabout i come home and he is ripping the doors from the kitchen cabinets – did i leave the stove on? did i die? he is sitting here spilling onto everything in that fucking way he does while i stare at all these empty spaces – i wish i had told you that i was proud of you – and i am here where i have already died, his regrets mine, his hands resting on the shitty oaktable, all the legs gnawed to chunks by our fucking dogs, always these fucking dogs – by the fall he is gone, vacant rooms rotting in his absence, every second in want of him a voilence – i scream myself apart on filthy floors, painfully present – did i die? this void is never spoken,i want him to be proud of how i occupied these days without him, how i carried him even before my shoulders knew how to bear weight – he moves what’s left of his life out of the basement, everything hanging off hinges and he is a stranger come back from nowhere, living in my childhood bedroom where i got high on the emptiness – like father, like daughter, like it never happened at all.
17 somewhere it is 5am is there nothing in silence? perhaps wrath has become my eyes. and the vision of my agony has come to eat chaos in my bedroom. a palm on my face and i taste the wind of empty mornings – oh, i loathe looking upward because i know moonlight will outlive me. i dream of driving on an unlit highway, a nighttime stranger in search of ecstacy – when i die it will be because i dread taking breath ivory sermon i was born in the kitchen. new flesh pressed upon floorboards like bent knees upon hallowed earth. a gentle god should not let children know what it means to be empty. so i have never read the bible. but i did scrawl its passages upon the white walls of my bedroom.in my recitations i learn that neglect is its own sort of violence. i was baptized as a baby. as if somehow my birth was a stain upon my character. i came into the world a prophet of wrath, made in the image of the father who eats the eons whole like his children did the apple. i wished to bite the hand that fed me such poison as daughter, don’t be angry. but home hollowed me out. so now i care for the blossoms in my windowsill like i should care about myself. protect the roots. if i stand very still in my backyard i can hear pine trees whisper. in a journal the color of a melting mosaic i write down the sounds of their suffering. the same word over and over. i was taught that apathy is a kindness. and abandonment just a lesson to be learned. so i shatter my dad’s taillight with a rock. i throw glass bottles against my garage door as the years yearn to beat again upon my body. i rest on the porch chairs and stretch backward – when i was ten i had a cat who climed trees. eventually he got stuck, started wasting away. my parents repeated their endless lie: what is there to do? every night for eight days i lay awake listening to him scream. howl until he could only wheeze. i begged them for help. what is there to do? every night the screaming. every night my palms pressed to white walls. what is there to do? and again i was made.
exalto i am grappling with a great many things. like what comes after yes and how to count my blessings with closed eyes and the great stretches of living to be done onsummer afternoons. the porch, sunlit and warm. bent trees. grass i could have drowned in. what does a blossoming taste like? it is only in darkness that life ends so i live a sun-seeking vessel, the softness of my body just a place to rest weary heads. i write postcards from other cities but i always sign them welcome home. i address love letters to eyes–teeth–elbows–a beating heart– and the early morning ripens, cracks open on the sidewalk. a sleep field. my eyelids turn crimson with the dawn. daylight is for my many promises – dusk is but a dream. i will carry this into heaven. when a sunbeam breaks overhead i ask my many questions– have you ever seen a sky so blue? have you stopped searching?
by Claire Zuo
Watching You by Anisa Panahi
I can hear the hum of the grande allegro Through the smudged glass window That divides us; dancer and audience. The lobby is full of folding chairs and people; The thud of feet against floor echoes dully in the air. Sharp, gleaming hairpins and stained satin slippers Litter the rough brown carpet ground Where I once stood in your shoes. Do you hear the whispers? Sharp-edged and uttered between tilted heads Do you feel the knives? Driven into your back with white-knuckled hands Maybe they only exist on this side of the glass. Turn, turn, leap, turn, Scrapes and bruises, Pulls and sprains, Blood and blisters, Sweat and so many tears. I see you hit the ground and feel the jolt In my heart as surely as you do in your body. Then you stand And smile as nimble feet float you Across the scuffed studio vinyl In an otherworldly apparition Reminiscent of the characters You yearn so much to dance. I look through the glass and see myself still on the floor.
by Marjorie Gaber
by Ekaterina Makhnina After it rains I might get sad, Because I cannot save all of the worms. And if I cannot save all of the worms Then some of the worms are going to die. Maybe that’s just their lot in life, But they are God’s creatures, after all, And even if I don’t believe in a God I can believe in the things that he makes.
Outside, a boy has passed me by And thrown a curious look my way So I get up from beside the worm, which stubbornly won’t crawl into my hand, and follow the boy inside, to class. He probably thinks I’m thinking of him – I did look back at him, after all – but I’m not thinking about the boy. I’m thinking about those goddamn worms.
by Alexander Wagner
It takes a change of elevation to recognize the space between different bodies of a thing. How the clouds are just rivers operating in three dimensions, breaking against the rapids of mountains, always white water tangling itself in a web of red hair. and the spark of lichen comes to rest on wet stone, spreads across what could be marble, if seen from an angle other than kindling consumed by green ember, and fire is just another name for water working in antigravity, flowing upward off of wood, sending droplets of itself into the sky.
Trees in Bloom by Katherine Qiao
Anatomy of a Wave by Alexander Wagner
We will not constrict ourselves to your definition of movement. Your fundamental misconception is a blindness to direction; you cannot shatter mountains by moving side to side. You cannot fathom the distance from coast to coast, from trench to surface, the eons we have been here, but you define the passage of our energy as the ratio of these things? Poor little fools; you do not recognize the storm beneath our stasis. We do not need your approval.
Buttermilk by Andrew Pluta
A mere particle among millions, Flowing on an assembly line of identical droplets. Unsure of where youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going, Of what your goal is, Even of whether or not youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re truly wet. At times, you navigate every curve With the boldness and agility of a luge olympian. Other times you scrape past the divots where your peers stagnate. Your scant momentum narrowly rescues you from their fate. Foreigners accompany you on occasion. The hitchhiking leaf who you carry to his next stop Or the ambitious young minnow yearning to race you. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll never forget the figures that come from atop their beanstalks; Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re always hesitant, opting for only incomplete submergence. But each outsider proves to be an acquaintance at bestâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Rain checking your invitation to travel farther. To travel to the end. Whatever and whenever it may be.
đ&#x;&#x2019;§đ&#x;&#x2019;§đ&#x;&#x2019;§ Eventually, you feel this endâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;fear this endâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;lurking. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re losing control and predictability as the current intensifies. If you were cruising before, Then youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re hopelessly hydroplaning now, Horrified that you will veer into the bank Before reaching your intended resolution. Will you become beached? Doomed to evaporate? Your ears are ringing, No, whirringâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; No, something else altogether. This chaos has distracted you From the newfound frigidness of your surroundings Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re convinced that the hands of
Have scooped you from the current, And are currently carrying you.
For just long enough,
Your tumbling and spinning slow, Allowing you to confirm your worst fear. You wanted to reach the endâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; But not like this. You hold your breath. You close your eyes. This is it.
đ&#x;&#x2019;§đ&#x;&#x2019;§đ&#x;&#x2019;§ But itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not. You open your eyes to a new world entirely. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re flying now but calmer than in your most tranquil times adrift. This state lasts but seconds before giving way to supreme serenity. You bask in your new blessed basin, looking up at the waterfall. The waterfall that terrified youâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;terrorized youâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Before granting you the peace of mind youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve idolized for so long. The journey has ceased. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re home now.
by Catherine Plank
by Annelise Senkowski the sun came out today and so did you. coaxed out by warmth and distant birdsong, a small flower started growing from my collarbone. i fall in love too fast i fall in love too hard i want it all at once, like wanting to climb the nonexistent branches of an infantile sprout. it’s the promise that hurts the most. in the teachings of mother nature, good things come to those who wait so i’ll bide my time, i won’t rush, but i will recognize when the plumule becomes a bud becomes a stem becomes leaves becomes a flower. please don’t wilt, stay as you are. i am the hug of humid morning air. i am the gentle fingertips of a penetrable ray. i am the wisps of a stretching cirrus. i am the golden dust particles that hang inches above the grass at dusk. i am the lain blanket on our sticky sweet summer night. one flower became two strewn across my chest. *** the sun left today and so did you. so i left the door of my house open and stood in the middle of the street away from the streetlights so that i may look upon the stars how they were intended to be seen.
28 the only stars that are visible are ones that are dying. iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m embarrassed to ask so much, to have this audacity, to demand answers from a thing slipping from existence. is this the only choice? the breeze just barely disrupted the abandoned sneakers on the power lines, but somehow i canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hear myself breathe anymore. my eyes betrayed me as I continued to stare at heavenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fated departures for my missing virtue. i failed to notice that my flowers had fallen, the petals drifted into the wind and left me too.
Birdsong on a Silent Reservoir by Alexander Wagner Behold the body of water left breathless: watch the fabric boil beneath dancing insects, beads of an oar hovering there, singing as they knead the charcoal. Listen: somewhere beneath the sun, the windless chime of the blue jays a pinpoint in the unchanging air.
Hummingbird Collage by Hannah Levine-Drizin
by Hannah Levine-Drizin
Polar Bear Collage by Hannah Levine-Drizin
by Nicole Silberman Bodies cold and blue look to the sky for salvation; anger is only directed at the sun as they beg her just to shine once more. Who smiles when theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re told to? Certainly not I nor most women who walk the streets with purpose and not an angry soul nor an angry storm, for it only brings a sigh of exasperated wind from all of us. On days like these, when wind whips one to pavement, I wish it would blow by inspiration that hits just as hardbut I only hear whispers and howls laced with hallelujahs. Cold lungs shake as they inhale bitter and exhale woes to the world. As steps tread heavy, the books on my back hang even heavier but one day, they will thaw me. Only memories warm like cups of tea so I wait for stories to freeze in my mind like ice. Words may lie and memories too, but the present drags as long as these winter days until time is just a smear. Maybe white lies are better than white snow and here and now; inhaling truths twenty below will take a toll. Those drags kill your lungs, they say, but steps drag too and bodies cold and bluethey are tired. Maybe that flickering sun is burnt out too.
Hashtag Ana Girl by Azaariah Mattingly
The second I walk into a room, I know everyone’s eyes are on me. Why? If it’s not obvious by now, get your eyes checked, sweet pea. You see, I am beautiful. I am the Tumblr girl you aspire to be, I am pasted on your Pinterest dashboards. I am everything you’ll never have. I? Am perfect Please. Help. The walls are closing in I can’t eat I can’t sleep I need Absolutely nothing at all, because I have everything I could ever want and more. I’m perfect. Perfect grades, perfect face, impossible to replace I’m drowning. I barely know who I am everything is a lie I’m Fine. Always smiling, never down All my friends love having me around but they’re jealous Can you blame them? Size double zero jeans and XS tees Long legs and a thigh gap between and My ribs are cutting through my skin Hipbones so sharp they could kill a man Ribbon-like scars on my thighs I’m Your Hashtag Ana Girl What you see when you search thinspo The good side of the disease Doesnt exist. My war cries are cries for help Please help me I’ll die Don’t help me I want to die At least I’ll make a beautiful corpse. In a coffin so light you’ll wonder if I’m even there if my body’s made of air if I’m Eating I’m not dying Don’t eat don’t eat don’t eat don’t
32 Feel sorry for me. I don’t want your pity I don’t need your pity I’m perfect Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels I am your Hashtag Ana Girl The second I walk into a room I know everyones eyes are on me. Why? Because I’m dying. I am a walking talking skeleton, look more like one each day I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine You’re jealous, you think I’m beautiful right? I’m perfect. Right? I am withering away And I’m doing it beautifully Every step I take you worry my legs will break Too weak to support what little weight I have Don’t bother offering me food Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels Nothing tastes as good as Skinny is everything If I’m skinny you’ll love me If I’m skinny you’ll want me If I’m skinny I’m Going to die soon and everyone knows it You can see me falter with each step I can see you wondering which one will be my last I... don’t want to die. I don’t want to die I’ve had Enough of feeling guilty for eating a whole apple. I’ve had enough of exercising until I pass out. I’ve had ENOUGH I’ll always be here The disease never truly leaves I’ll be waiting in the back of your mind You’ll fall again soon They never last long... you’ll see
Festival Season by Vellia Zhou
Take the Fall by Gina Torres
Your fall through the bright hues of blue and gold was astounding. I know I should not think this way, but Icarus, I cannot help myself. I was the one who caused you to fall. I sank my intangible fingers into cold paste and impure feathers, ripping you away from what should have been a mockery of a birdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s flight. I know I should not have done that, but you came too close to me in the first place. No matter the reasons you may say I should know that this was fate and yet I ponder. Should I have left you alone, even though I was made not to do as such? Should I have found some way to catch you from your descent and assure you that your actions did not equate to such a fate? O Dearest Icarus, mayhap I should have done something. Maybe I should have somehow gotten your father, who was far far away? Should I have warned the moon of your actions, trying to get a tide to catch you before you fell into the dark, ever-open maw of Poseidonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s territory? Should I have spread my eternal flame to a species in the sky in an attempt to force them to halt your fall, even a little? Perhaps I should have done my all so you could sedate your childish glee for just a beat, let your fingers run through my translucent beams.
34 But all I did was what I was made to do and watched as you sang your prayers and fell into the unforgiving grip of the endless
Conker in DOOM by Ryan
STAR FOX by Ryan
Mutant League Football by Ryan
Brought To You By Can you feel the grass beneath your toes? The blades lovingly caress the gaps between them and a dampness permeates the soles, invoking a sense of uncleanliness. This is the kind of uncleanliness a child revels in; it is rebellion, it is lowered inhibitions. Smell the rain misting the ground: the scent is sharp on the attack and gentle on the sustain, like a stinging note in a piano piece. Life thrives beneath, above, and around you. Dig your feet deeper into the soft dirt. Sink in. Feel the seconds brush past your skin. This is the ground from which we rose and the ground in which we will rot. Subway: Eat fresh.
by Kristina Mallabo
Imagine a Romeo and a Juliet. Juliet she is the sun Romeo he is not the moon he is a hopeless planet that stands no chance against her gravitational pull. Juliet slowly pulls a strand of hair behind her ear, not because she can’t see, but to draw Romeo’s eyes to the soft curves of her face. He stares until she glances, and rays of her gaze set his face aflame. Our Romeo and Juliet know about the Romeo and Juliet, and they learn. They communicate; they rationalize. They live to sit under the bleachers while the shitty marching band blares away, and they steal kisses from each other and time away from home. Imagine love deeprooted love heavy love the strangling kind. While you’re at it, imagine Benvolio and Mercutio high-fiving and then sneaking away to have sex in the janitor’s closet.
He is calm like a bomb: rage becomes him. The fuse is always lit; it is a matter of when and not if. A hair out of place ignites anger. A minute too long in the coffeeshop line incenses fury. A rejection from anyone explodes into striking violence. His house is a testament to his eternal outrage: alcohol stains that will never evaporate litter the carpet and not a single piece of furniture has known peace since it had been purchased. When he gets home, he will take two steps past the front door and step on a shard of a broken plate. In retaliation, he will punch yet another hole in the wall. Tonight, he will climb the fence into another man’s yard and douse the other’s car in gasoline. A match will be tossed onto the hood. As the flames flicker and dance before his eyes, he will feel a spark of something other than primal rage deep within him. He will watch the car burn. The other man willcome out of his house, yelp, and then call the police.
Nike: Just do it.
Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
by Andrew Pluta
Across 3 The fog swallows me, endowing the elements of my environment with unascertainable 4 My goals, vices, obstacles—even allies—obscured to 5 Unrest rushes through every artery as if administered by IV—my world is on its 8 Dissociated to a different 9 I used to believe in aliens, but loneliness disabuses me of this idea, The universe, space itself, must be 10 I shut my eyes, purposeless as an actor incapable of articulating a Down 1 Though externally mundane and uneventul, the moment is encompassed by 2 A selfish chaos. The peace for which I pine has always been present. The password is a new 4 You. In times more tumultuous than these you remain warm yet level-headed, never 6 You are my best bifocals. I look to you—through you—to make sense of the deepest 7 And I know you need me too. Together we’ll make this disaster
Get Out of My Cuphead by Ryan
The Legend of Lake Angikuni by Rachel McKimmy Northern Canada; March, 1930 In late winter, the temperature lay well below freezing at night, and the sun loomed low between the peaks of two craggy mountains, the dark clouds overhead dulling the endless white of the monochrome landscape to a lambent gray. Tundra stretched out in the other direction, so far the eye couldn’t see the end of it. The landscape’s only inhabitants -- shrubs, sedges and grasses, mosses and lichens -- dozed under a blanket of ice. Joe Labelle drew his fur-edged hood closer to his face with fingers that felt numb even wrapped in thick leather gloves, and trudged forward. Nunavut was a region northwest of the Hudson Bay, including its Northwestern Passages and those islands directly north of it. He’d followed the Kazan River west, a crack on the surface of this barren landscape, to arrive here at Lake Angikuni. He would rest at the Inuit village tonight before continuing on his way, alone. You couldn’t survive in this place if you didn’t know how to be alone. Several more miles to the village, Joe thought. He needed to get there before nightfall, when his grizzled beard, already clumped with ice, would start to freeze solid, before he was forced to use the last of the batteries for his flashlight. For now, the little light the sky provided reflected off the whiteness of the tundra, giving his surroundings an eerie glow. He wouldn’t freeze to death at night, at least, even if he were stranded out here. His face was covered, protected from the cold, biting wind and the risk of frostbite. His clothes were heavy and warm enough to keep him alive, and unless he suddenly became soaking wet or lost a few layers of clothing,
he wouldn’t get hypothermia. It was mostly thanks to the creature that had nearly killed him that he did not fear freezing to death. Its heavy hide was draped over his shoulders, a thick shield against the elements that had saved his life many times over. *** Several years previously, during late autumn, Joe had been trapping near Wager Bay. Wager Bay and the area surrounding it, which he’d heard referred to as Ukkusiksalingmiut for the soap-stone that could be found there, was as hauntingly beautiful a wilderness as any in northern Canada, with its low tundra and patches of taiga forest in its river valleys. The region was populated with a great many animals, including arctic wolves, polars, and grizzlies, and there was a booming fur trade there. A post on the outermost edge of the bay had been his home at the time. He’d been in one of those river valleys on that late autumn morning, checking the hare and fox traps he’d laid the night before, when he’d heard the sound, a snuffling noise, and turned. A grizzly bear cub, big enough to have been born the year before, stood between two trees not far away, looking directly at him with inquisitive brown eyes and rounded ears perked. His heart lurched in his chest, for fear not of the cub but what the cub meant. He was reaching for the rifle on his back when the mother bear plowed into him without warning, knocking him to the ground. The breath left his lungs. The weight of her large paws on his back crushed him. She pounded him several times with her paws, as one might pound a man on the ground with his fists, but these blows were far stronger and had her full weight -- something over threehundred pounds -- behind them. Her long, sharp claws shredded through layers of his clothing. His head rang, his adrenaline pounded. There was nothing he could do as the
43 mother beat him with her paws, pounding her weight into his back. The rifle slammed into his back as her weight pressed it into him. Then he felt her breath hot on the back of his neck and her teeth -Her teeth scraping at the nape of his neck. Grazing the back of his skull. He closed his eyes, his face pressed to the dirt. He imagined he heard his skull give a groan beneath the pressure of her jaws. In a flash, he saw a face full of freckles, ringlets of strawberry hair, sparkling seagreen eyes above a soft smile -She took the back of his jacket in her mouth, and tossed him like a rag doll. He landed hard on the ground, on his back this time, and lifted his hands, bracing himself -but she was on top of him again, and he had no power to fight her as she chomped down on his left hand. The bones in his hand splintered. Blood splattered onto the snow, dark red on pure white. Her teeth crunched into him as she shook his hand, like a dog shaking a chew toy. Just as quickly, she released it and mauled his arm, tossed him again, crushed him with her paws again. Every part of his arm down from the elbow screamed, as if each cell were crying out in pain. His throat was raw. When did I start screaming? he wondered, feeling as if his mind was watching him die from a few paces away, emotionless, while his body suffered each moment in an agony that seemed to last for hours. A knife in his pocket. A rifle on his back. They were nothing compared to her claws and teeth and enormous strength. She was going to kill him for coming near her cub and he was powerless to fight back. He lay still. Couldn’t move. On his stomach again. She sniffed at him. Stood on his back again, and shook him once more, drawing a soundless whimper out of him, before he heard her footsteps lumber away. A knife in his pocket. A rifle on his back.
She might come back. His entire body cried out as he moved, grabbing onto something -- a boulder, a tree, a log, he wasn’t sure -- for support, pulling himself up. Desperation to live, not strength of spirit, though perhaps they were the same thing -- that was what drove him to reach for his rifle. His Mosin-Nagant was hanging from his right arm, somehow unbroken. He couldn’t remember the strap sliding off his shoulder. It was loaded. He brought it up near his shoulder to shoot, desperation making the pain of using his wounded arm somehow bearable -- she was about twenty feet away with the cub. He hesitated. A trickle of sweat, or perhaps blood, ran into his eye. She turned back, as if sensing the danger, and then she was charging toward him. She closed the distance faster than he thought possible -- ten feet in only a second, it seemed -- When he pulled the trigger. The bullet lodged between her eyes, killing her before she could reach him -she was only a couple feet away when she dropped to the ground, body spasming in death. He stared at her body. He’d seen dead animals before. Every day he harvested their pelts, ate their meat. It was what he did for a living. But this was somehow different. He set traps for the animals he killed. They couldn’t fight back like this. He’d wanted to live. She’d only been protecting her cub. The pain bore down on him. He coughed up the contents of his stomach before blacking out from shock. When he woke, the cub was nosing at its mother’s body. He managed to stumble to his feet, his entire body throbbing with pain. Blood gushed from a gash in his upper thigh, and from another in his arm. His mangled left hand was the worst of it. His ribs ached; every breath hurt. Sinking onto a log nearby, he was able to retrieve his medical kit from his pack. With his trembling
44 good hand, he peeled off his top layers and examined the wounds on his torso. Smaller scrapes and cuts oozed blood, and bruises that would soon blossom black and purple covered his upper body. The danger wasn’t over yet. The gashes and deeper gore marks on his arm were leaking blood, but hadn’t nicked any arteries, at least. Cleaning and stitching the wounds was the best he could do, and he did so one-handed. His left hand, though... Several bones were broken, though he couldn’t tell much more about the state of it through the mess of blood. The only thing he could do for now was wash it in the nearby stream, wrap it tightly with bandages, and hope that he could do enough for it when he got back that he wouldn’t have to amputate. But he couldn’t leave a good bear hide behind. Even as he struggled to skin the carcass mostly one-handed, the cub lingered nearby, staying near its mother’s body but never coming closer than ten feet from him. He couldn’t bring himself to kill it. It would have been a mercy: the cub likely wouldn’t survive without its mother. He would make some money off its pelt. But he could not do it. He limped the couple miles back to the trading post, exhausted and still trembling with the aftereffects of adrenaline and the still-present pain of his injuries, but he couldn’t let himself stop moving for even a second. If he stopped to rest for a moment, he thought he might never move again. And despite all he’d been through, despite his pain and aching loneliness, there was a part of him that wasn’t done searching yet. Though searching for what, he never knew. “That’s all? Man, ya got it easy, Labelle,” they said, when he got back to the trading post. He’d visited the doctor and then come straight to the pub for the best painkiller
available here: alcohol. “I dunno, stayin’ ta skin the bear when yer bleedin’. Ya got balls, Labelle,” added someone else, over a game of cribbage. “Yer lucky ya didna lose yer arm. Canna b’lieve ya wouldna let ‘em ampatate. But I herd ya was a doctor, b’fore, ain’t that right, Labelle?” He didn’t respond to their comments. The conversation continued without him. He played the game and spoke only when he had to, and the others let him be. He began to wish he hadn’t come to the bar, considered going back to his room to nurse a bottle by himself. He was barely listening when something they were saying caught his attention. “Ay, ‘ave ya herd o’ that place the govenment be buildin’ up north?” One man asked, lowering his voice to an exaggerated whisper. His friend smacked him on the back of the head, looking over his shoulder and around in what he must have thought was a discreet fashion. “Dun let the Mounties be hearin’ ya talk ‘bout it. That shit’s top-secret, that is.” “There ain’t no conspiracy. Y’all just listenin’ to fuckin’ rumors from those redskin fucks,” added another man. Joe addressed the first two men, ignoring the third. “What kind of place?” “Heard it’s a place for expermements, or whatever ya call ‘em. That they be stealin’ peoples and turnin’ ‘em inta monsters.” “Stuff and non’ense.” “Hey, Labelle, maybes they’d offer ya a job, seein’ as yer a doctor an’ all.” The table roared with laughter. Joe fell into a sullen silence, mulling over what they’d said, disturbed but disbelieving. There were all kinds of rumors that went through the trading post. This would hardly be the first conspiracy he’d heard, and thus it was unlikely to be true. Some time later, someone sat down next to him. Another trapper by the name of Kerr. He was an older man with kindly
45 eyes, one who had probably lived here most of his life. “Labelle, yer new here,” he said. “I known most folks that come ‘round here fer years. If they die er go missin’, I know the names of their loved uns, ya know? I be knowin’ who ta contact.” Another man at the table, overhearing Kerr, scoffed. “Loved uns? This lot? Ya, right.” Kerr ignored him and continued, leaning closer and lowering his voice. “Ya got family somewhere? If somethin’ be happenin’ ta ya, isna there an’body ta contack? An’body...?” Joe stared silently at the glass of whiskey on the table in front of him, at the cuts on his knuckles as he clutched the glass with his good hand. “No one,” he rasped out, finally, even though turquoise eyes flashed behind his lids when he closed his eyes. He drained the rest of the shot and stood, slamming the glass down hard enough on the wooden counter to draw the eyes of everyone nearby. “No one.” He left and went back to his bare and soulless room, the words echoing in his head. No one. *** On April 6, 1917, the U.S. entered World War I. Joe was a twenty-three-year-old medical student when his draft card was pulled, and went with more than twomillion other soldiers to fight on the battlefields in France as a member of the U.S. Medical Corps. He left his parents. He left Lily. For the blood and the poison gas burns melting the faces off of his screaming comrades. When he returned home to Michigan, everything was different. He was different. After he married Lily, he promised to be better, but things only got worse. They failed several times to have a child before discovering that they couldn’t. He couldn’t practice medicine without memories of the battlefield. He would put whiskey in his
morning coffee to hide from Lily just how much he was drinking. He couldn’t keep a steady job, be the man that she wanted him to be, the man she’d known before that draft number had ruined his life. She didn’t give up on him for seven years. And then she left him. And he ran from his life, ran away until he couldn’t run any farther. *** Several months after the bear attack, Joe had left that trading post behind and set off further inland to establish his own trading post west of Yathkyed Lake, where he’d now been for three years. His hand was never the same, but he was lucky in that sense -- he didn’t lose it, nor did he entirely lose its function. One of his trading destinations was the native village at Angikuni Lake. He’d discovered them shortly after establishing his own post. Lost in a blizzard, he stumbled into their village. They’d stripped off his freezing clothes, built a huge fire in one of their igloos, and brought him back from the brink of death. Now, he was always welcomed there, welcomed in a way he hadn’t been welcomed anywhere in years. The sun disappeared behind the mountains, and Joe’s breath frosted the air in front of his face. The village was near. Only a bit farther. He could see the lake; the dozens of craters that made it up had been carved by passing glaciers over thousands of years. The temperature continued to drop. The wind blasted ice into his face, forcing him to cover his eyes with his arm and march forward blindly. Snow whipped up around him, but the weather earlier had held no hint of a coming blizzard. Just as well; he was nearly there. A flash of light in the sky overhead caused him to look up in surprise for the aurora borealis, but the sky was empty of the ethereal dancing lights. He blinked several times, sure that he’d imagined it. Seeing things, he thought, giving his head
46 a little shake. What he needed was rest, food, shelter, and a heavy dose of alcohol to warm him up, all of which could be found up ahead, where the shapes of the igloos were now visible through the thickly falling snow. As he drew closer, though, no dog barks and wagging tails met him. No voices echoed his greeting call. Were they all already inside their homes? He wandered into the village and ducked into the nearest igloo, yelling a hello to announce his presence. But there was no one directly inside, only a rifle propped near the door, unloaded, and again his call went unanswered. Inside the igloo, there was no wind, creating a soundless vacuum around him. He strained his ears, but all he could hear was the beating of his own heart. Joe crept onward, searching every room. Dried meat and other provisions filled the pantry. A piece of sealskin, still threaded with a bone needle, was left halffinished on the bed-furs. His heart sped up. He fought the unshakable feeling that something was wrong. Perhaps the family was having dinner with a neighbor, or the village members, about thirty in all, were gathering in another igloo? He exited the empty home and trudged out into the snow again, heading for the next igloo. Over the mournful whistling of the wind, his thoughts raced. Where were the dogs? Where were the children? The wind stole away the sound of people’s voices, the usual sound of chatting and laughter that could be heard around dinner time. It was too late to be out fishing on the lake, which would be covered in a sheet of ice at this time of year. The sleds were still outside each igloo. His were the only tracks in the snow. He called out once more. Silence. The next Inuit home was the same. There was a meal on the table, a mostly eaten caribou stew, but it was cold. The cooking fire was dead.
And the next, empty, caribou hide clothing left laid out on a bed. He checked every single home with ever-increasing apprehension. He stopped announcing himself, afraid to raise his voice. He created a mental tally of each silent house as he searched it. One, two, three... five, six.... He lost count, his searching becoming ever more frantic and desperate. He began to run, stumbling through the thick snow. He made it down to the rocky shore of the lake. Each kayak, made of sealskin stretched over willow branches, was often used to travel on the river to hunt caribou, as most of the year the lake was frozen over. But the kayaks were still pulled up on the boulder-strewn bank of the lake, where they were most of the year. As he stumbled back up the hill, his foot caught on something hidden beneath the snow and he toppled forward, landing on top of something underneath the crunchy powder of the snow. Something cold and stiff. No, he thought, his heart skipping a beat. He scrambled to his knees and began to claw through the snow with his hands. He uncovered a paw first, sticking at an awkward angle out of the snow. Then the rest of the dog’s body, ice matted in its fur. Its frozen tongue lolled out of its open mouth, which was filled with snow. Its eyes were blank and dead. Continuing to dig frantically, he found another dog corpse in the bank. And another one. He couldn’t tell how they’d died, but it was as if they had all been neatly stacked here afterward, left to be buried by snow and ice.
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uwuber eats by Vellia Zhou
by Rachel McKimmy A few good friends, enough Food in your belly, a pillow to rest your head and a roof over it at night — that’s enough. You go to school, go to work, your days are full enough. You pass a pastry shop, the windows stacked with enough Sugar to kill you. But what if the change in your pocket is not enough To buy a single slice of cinnamon bread unless you save, because your family doesn’t earn enough, And what if your clothes are out-of-style because your older sibling wore them before you, and the roof is leaking rain into a bucket, is that still “enough”? You don’t work hard enough, To make ends meet. To get that A, you’re not smart enough, You don’t try hard enough, You don’t do enough Even when you don’t get enough Sleep. It doesn’t matter if you care enough, Because you’ll never be good enough. And will there ever be enough Clean water to drink? Enough Food to eat, places to sleep, that aren’t on the street, enough Space on this planet? Enough Happiness to go around for every person? Every mammal, bird, reptile, insignificant insect? As if you don’t have enough To think about already — ENOUGH. There’s simply not enough Time... Enough is enough Until it isn’t enough. It stops making sense, stops looking like a real word, and it’s more than enough To drive you insane (‘nuff said?) if you think about it enough.
by Courtney Eberlein A body isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t much But nerves and muscles and bones And tissue and flesh. Together these are a body. These are my body These are yours. There is no soul In a body No physical evidence Of who you are Or what you have done And yet it is There.
by Katherine Qiao
Who I am Is my body All that I have done Is in this bulk Of a person With nerves and muscles and bones And tissue and flesh. Together these are mine. I can not be separated From my body Nor it from me. So, I must nourish it, Preserve it, hide it Away from the world.
50 Since the birth Of my body And the birth of me Others have cautioned And advised and urged To keep this body safe Keep yourself safe. And I have failed And am still failing. Exposed to the world are my mistakes Revealed not through words But through the puffs Of scar tissue Lining my limbs and taunting, Screaming of the past. To hush those screams Is to hide those mistakes Which kills two birds With one stone. Caution: when you are urged To not corrupt yourself, your body With Needles and ink And men and harm It is not for you, It is for others. To protect them To shield them From the defilement Of such a pure, Spotless, sinless, body. They always say “Was this a mistake? I feel guilty” Do they know? Can they tell? Do They feel That small girl Child who never left, Who was stunted By soft words And rough hands In this body That holds her So well?
My body That became a prison For that poor girl When those hands forced Her, claimed her Carved “mine” Into the walls Of her cage. A word so small You would think it’d wear Away, and yet it stays And stays, still small Just like that poor girl. This defilement is not hers To define and neither Is the shame it provokes The stares and whispers And snickers and concealed Memories that are taken By so many people To be personal, Even when I Am the only person To possess them. The message is clear: This is not my shame This is not my body This is not mine.
UNTITLED by Zee
I stand tall here, as I have for centuries. I watch as a little girl hops out of a large truck, jumping around in the yard, filled with life and energy. The two adults with her seem sluggish, sad, broken. They haul cardboard boxes out of the truck, and drag them into the house. Their eyes are dull, their mouths in flat lines carved on their faces. The little girl cartwheels across the emerald grass, stopping to pluck a golden dandelion and place it in her long tangled hair. She runs up to me and places a soft, warm hand against my rough bark. I feel the pulse of her veins beneath her skin. Life runs through her into me. I remember the way the last people here treated me. There are still scars on my bark from their knife, warped knots in my branches where they broke some off in the spring while I was in bloom. Years passed. The girls arms wrapped almost all the way around my trunk now. She could climb, ever so gracefully. I lowered and lifted my branches, helping her along. She came to me when she needed me most. She would bury her face in my branches and let her tears trickle down the crevices. She told me of how her parents were never there for her, always busy with work. As she aged, there were days when there weren’t home at all. I did my best to reassure her. No matter what, I would be there for her. In the springs, she would stand under me and marvel at my pink and white blooms. I would let the wind shake my branches, and shower her in the sweet scented petals. In the summers my bright green leaves would shade her from the blazing sun. In the falls she would rake my colored leaves into piles and jump into them. Her joy fulfilled me and made me feel whole. All until one winter day, when she showed up in all black, shivering both from the blistering cold, and from the tears pouring down her face. “I never got to tell them I loved them,” she sobbed. I felt my innermost core shatter with her pain. I sheltered her and I let her hold me. But from then on, something was off about her. She started talking to me less. Started talking to everyone less, actually. She grew older, her back curved, face wrinkled, hair the color of the glistening snow settled on my branches. She could no longer climb. The light that once lit her eyes and spread to those around her was faded, almost extinguished. She didn’t bring her fears and sorrows to me anymore. She didn’t even cry. She just sat, warped back against my bark. She was a shell, hollow and devoid of life. She sat for days on end, her body still and cold. Until they came. They came dressed in black, and dug a shallow hole between my roots, and placed her lifeless form inside. I felt cold, bleak, alone. Spring came, and blue morning glories blossomed from her grave, wrapping their emerald vines around me, embracing me, filling me with her life and warmth again.
by Vellia Zhou
For My Love
by Gavin Amezaga Every break of morning I wake up to your tune I hum and sing along to it Until the afternoon I’ve found that you are in my head And there’s nothing I can do I have to walk my path alone For now And wait right here for you Even though I walk alone And we spend our days apart I think you know You’ll always be my heart When I lay my head to rest I hope to dream of you And maybe when I’m sleeping I can say that I love you
Siege of a Heart by Rachel Mckimmy
Burn your fortress down, you tell me; But flames and smoke lack subtlety, And when they are gone, All that remains are ashes. Why burn your walls to the ground When I could scale them quietly, Befriend the monster guarding the moat, And come inside the castle, To make myself at home With all the twists and turns Of every secret passageway? Until I find that long-forgotten courtyard At the ruinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart And, clearing away the thorns, Plant a garden.
By Vellia Zhou
By Vellia Zhou
School safety and falling in love
I dive into your earl grey tea London fog eyes Submerging myself in the misty emerald city Milk and lemon poured By Eliot Caramanian over the finest crown of silver sapphire and December turquoise Blue because she loves the sea From the kingdom of Annabel Lee. And from the kettle of your kisses Love was poured into me Like the Queen’s favorite earl grey tea. The Lorax and his trufula trees Find home beneath your cloudless smile A potent utopian glee. And that bottom lip that goes off to the side Every so slightly when you’re concentrating That’s where I find the shade from the scorching sun and screaming sand of the desert of Der Zor where my soul stumbled and burned with my ancestors in the Armenian Genocide. And your hairs grow like Rumplestiltskin’s straw To the threads of the gold Dotted stars on the midnight of your back Whisper and beg me to escape from these classes To put down the textbooks and pick up the book of the sky Stories in constellations you’ve laid out for me To save me from the screeching songs of my PTSD Because the violent violet night bleeds into the sunflowers of the painted strokes of Van Gogh on your shoulders He weeps and settles into the misty haze Of Cezanne’s single-line mountains Stretching the limits of the mind Leaving white space because our mind fills in the blanks My future is full of white spaces Where you fill in the colors. Your hands are the answer to Hamlet’s famous soliloquy Because they are and they are mine And they hold the cosmos and the genie’s lamp with my three wishes All three of which are for you to stay with me. And here where we found love at schoolI your poet and you my museWe were inseparable, us two Til a bullet for me caught you.
Hold___Together By Katherine Qiao
Breadcrumbs By Paul Blumer
West Farigastan past the alley off Shata Street, the alley with the box tree on the north corner is where she dropped the doll. I know the sun shines bright there. And the wind still wanders. I don’t know if that crooked tree is still standing. Or if Shata Street is still paved with anything more than ragged craters now, jumbled rubble and dark unknown splashes. Like many of the streets around here. I don’t know who runs Farigastan now. I don’t know who is scheming to run it next. When she dropped the doll, I think—that’s when I think I stopped caring about all that. That’s when I realized none of that ever mattered. I can still see it there, the doll in the dust. Patched crooked and worn soft, with that—that sour sweet smell of honey and kid sweat and too much snotty teary love. The scene blurs. I’m submerged, drowning in the image now every time my focus fades. Limp and puny. A sprawled little star of threadbare rags in the dry and bitter desert of an empty street. Left behind like one more teardrop along a trail of sorrow, one more hopeless breadcrumb dropped in the wake of our slow march toward death. Dropped face down, not even with one last view of the open sky before the tank treads... Her grandmother gave her the doll—I should say, gave us the doll—about a month before she was born. It was a charm, she promised, to confound any bad luck that might be hovering around waiting for her birth...a little something to hold and embrace and develop her little loving heart...a dear possession to take hostage when discipline and reasoning bow out... and...well the meanings don’t really translate. It was all of those things and more. An image splashed in my memory like looking into the sun long enough to wonder why. Papa where’s Annie? I’d jumped so high my knees banged the desk. Amal! I laughed, swallowing against my pounding heart. She tiptoed past the threshold into my study. I scooped her up, tickling. Why are you awake, little miss? She squirmed in her pajamas and fought the giggles. Dowwowwown! I obeyed at once. She looked up and put on a serious face. Composed herself. Took a breath. Suddenly her dark eyes melted somber and her face twisted with real woe. I can’t find her! She waggled a finger in her ear in that funny way of hers, perplexed and anxious, chin wrinkled and trembling. Well where have you looked? Everywhere! I reminded her: Amal can your pretty little head even imagine everywhere? Um no, she remembered. She had just discovered counting past ten by touching her chin to each additional finger. And then her forehead for the twenties. And then fifty-one starts the ear! When I’d curbed her smugness by demonstrating there was a whole universe of
numbers beyond her grasp, she climbed up into her fig tree and didn’t come down til supper. Then she told me her new ambition was to count the stars. Let’s go have a look around your room, I’d suggested. Maybe Annie is there hiding. She took my hand as we walked down the hall. We checked her closets, dresser drawers, in the toy chest. We checked among her other stuffed animals, knelt and peered under the bed, behind the bedroom door, methodically overturning every stone. The search was a formality though really. As soon as Amal first led me through the doorway, I’d seen the doll stuffed down between the bed and the wall, one small soft hand reaching for help above the comforter. But it was a teaching opportunity. She eventually found the doll on her own. When we had to leave, that doll was the only thing she wanted to take. My fatal flaw, in the country of my fathers, has always been prideful optimism. I see the way things should be, the way it could be—if people would just take a moment to share perspectives before launching into action. To let go and open up. Share back and forth a bit to join together for the common purpose of advancing ourselves through advancing everyone all... But then my indignation takes over my mouth and so I talk and I challenge and I get myself in trouble. Even now—even as tears roll down my face and salt my steaming teacup, even now I can’t help but scheme how best to wield the image of that doll for maximum pathos. The pitterpatter of sandaled little feet. Her hand in her mother’s. Their dresses billowing. Dust in the air and roiling smoke. The doll clutched under her arm, her little faded blue duffelbag slung over the father’s shoulder. A heartbeat symphony of sounds: sudden low rumbles, muffled sharp shouts, demonic fast hisses, clanking, screaming, thumping, gunshots. The doll tumbles in slow motion. Its shadow on the wall behind. The dust splashes—pock!—with bullet impacts. Slow staccato like rain.
By Vellia Zhou
61 A little girl running. Stops. Turns back with a shrill little screech. Annie! The doll. The father looks back. The mother faster. Sprints and stoops and swoops. The daughter reaching down. The mother’s arms straining. The doll hits the ground. Ominous rocket hiss. Fade to black... A soft white caption glows into being in the middle of the screen. It says: This man was not ready. A stretched beat while the message sinks in. The tea is bitter. I can’t help but work and fight. A teardrop blurs my ballpoint notes. What else do I have left? Then the screen says: Don’t make the same mistake. Crossfade to the call-to-action: Click here and prepare yourself now. Link to a portal webpage for sifting out the autoapps and the jokers. Process the real candidates who make it that far and clear out the spies and the unstable. Get in touch with those who remain. Begin the weeding which becomes the training which becomes the method. Using the image brings her back every time I think of it. Will we come back, Papa? she’d asked as we packed. Probably not, my heart’s beat. Probably means no, she pouted. Probably means it’s in God’s hands. But what if God smiles on the Others? Then there’s not much hope, is there. So where will we be? I thought about that. I still think about it. I told her: Wherever we find ourselves, my girl. We’ll be where we are.
Sleeping at Last By Zhuoheng Yang
Ash to the Future By Ryan
To the Silence By Anisa Panahi
To the silence that permeates My bedroom at 4 oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;clock in the morning To the long rows of shadows the blinds cast Upon my night-stained wall as indigo turns to lilac To the air that is heavy and crisp and caresses The boughs of the trees outside my window To the birds who sing as the sky salutes The sinking moon. You are a moment Suspended Held in place by a feeling. A single drop in the ocean of time A breath inhaled and exhaled Before the world wakes up and you go And you leave me Not alone but lonely nevertheless.
by Hannah Levine-Drizin
A Study of Memory by Adelaide Huang
In lecture, we learn that computers have finite memory; once they run out, they become incapable of pursuing a solution. Thus, it is necessary to save only the data you absolutely need. (Carry only what you need; if you’re unsure. leave it behind.) Of course, the professor continues, this is more relevant in high-level programming. But it is never too early to start. I look down at my hands. They are empty and I feel so light as to be superfluous. I’m good at this, I think. I don’t know if I want to be. After class, I walk a little ways into the forest that people pass but never enter. The sun darts at me between the trees and my feet sink into the soft ground. Let me carry you, I say to the world. Give me your joy, your sadness, and I will give you mine. Fill my memory; it’s there for a reason.
This Space is Under Construction by Carolyn Wu
This space is under construction and will not be open to the public for an unforeseen period of time. There are a few renovations I would like to finish first, my wall needs a few more layers of paint, and my ceilings are still too too low. The corridor between my frontal and parietal lobe needs a new carpet and the wiring is still fried from my last relationship. The kitchen has not been swept or the dishes washed. The egg shells on the counter are a few days old but have yet to make the jump to the trash. I suppose I could throw them out but every time I go to do it, I get too overwhelmed and sit on the couch instead. The couch is an old 70s pattern of floral and pale green where I like to sit and eat cereal. I always let my cereal sit for a few minutes so it’s nice and soft and soaked. There’s not much to see outside in the yard. That’s my heart over there, drying on a laundry line. I wrung it out this morning to dry but then the afternoon thunderstorm came and I forgot to bring it in. It’s still dripping so we should let it rest for the day. My bike is in the front driveway. I don’t believe in cars. I don’t believe in going places that need a car. I only go places by bike or bus. My brother says there’s so many things you can do once you have a car, but I know there’s always something endless to do inside my house. Like the other day I found a glass of wine inside the dryer. I’m not sure how it got there, but it gave me an idea. I soaked my clothes in Cabernet and then ran the drying machine. Oh! Come smell this candle. I lit it last night cuz I needed a way to defrost my toes. They had turned to ice after the nap I took in the fridge. I take naps in there sometimes to freeze my dreams and store them in jars for later analysis. I am a big fan of experiential analysis. After all, what is the point of living if you aren’t going to analyze what you experience. At that point I might as well burn this whole house to the ground. Oh wait. Oh no. My dining room is on fire! I must have left my folded laundry too close to the candle.
Spaced Out by Xindi Chang
Meet Our Natasha Gibbs // Editor In Chief I’m a Junior majoring in Program in the Environment and Spanish, and have been working on the magazine since my freshman year. Other interests include biking around Ann Arbor, watching very bad TV, and growing vegetables on the Campus Farm. My biggest quarantine achievement has been knitting a hat that it is too hot to wear right now.
Naitian Zhou // Submisisons Chair I’m a sophomore in the College of Engineering studying computer science, and this is my second year on board. When I’m not self-isolating under the threat of deadly sickness, I can be found pretending to be an LSA student in the linguistics or stats department. Outside of Blueprint, I’m involved with the Michigan Data Science Team and the Michigan Daily.
Vellia Zhou // Social Media and Events Chair Hi! I’m Microbiology major and Social Class and Inequality Studies minor in LS&A. I love to draw, paint, and embroider, and my portfolio can be found at http:// instagram.com/agonarche. I have been with Blueprint for two years now, and I’m excited to continue working with everyone!
Tanuja Tase // Secretary and Layout Chair I’m a junior studying Business Administration with a Creative Writing minor. I’ve loved reading and writing since I was a child, so it has been a pleasure to see the art that everyone submits. Allowing art to be viewed by others can be a vulnerable experience, so I’m grateful to those who are willing to share and allow others to connect with what they’ve made. In the future, I hope to work for a nonprofit and continue to write in my free time.
Katelynn Mulder // Treasurer I am a Sophomore who is majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and English. I love to read and write, and have greatly enjoyed being a part of this magazine as the Treasurer. I am looking forward to getting a kitten this summer, and he will be joining me in AnnArbor in the Fall.
Aly Gessner // Assistant Submissions Chair I am a Freshman at the University of Michigan planning on majoring in Program in the Environment with minors in Political Science and EEB. This has been my first year working on Blueprint and I’m really excited to share this issue! Outside of school I really enjoy spending time outdoors, writing, and hanging out with my dogs.
ISSUE 9 - 2020