BPLM 2018 Issue Seven
EDITORIAL BOARD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Katherine Qiao MANAGING EDITOR Paige Wilson TREASURER Sonia Lee SECRETARY Lani Silverstone SUBMISSIONS CHAIR Davanna White EVENTS CHAIR Jenny Hong
OUR TEAM Miriam Francisco Natasha Gibbs Hannah Groenke Jenny Hong Sonia Lee Katherine Qiao Rashika Rao Lani Silverstone Molly Swayze Christian Weigelt Davanna White Paige Wilson
COVER IMAGE “Watch Me Play” Natasha Gibbs
WHO WE ARE
Blueprint (est. March 2010) is a student-produced literary magazine at the University of Michigan. We originated from the North Campus community, and now collect the artistic creations of students, staff, faculty, and alumni across the College of Engineering, Stamps School of Art & Design, School of Music, Theatre, & Dance, Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, College of Literature, Science and the Arts, and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Evident in both the diversity of our staff and magazine content, our mission is to cultivate a space for anyone to be creative and imaginative, regardless of academic background and experience.
SPECIAL THANKS TO
ArtsEngine Arts at Michigan University of Michigan Central Student Government University of Michigan Engineering Student Government University of Michigan College of Engineering Office of Graduate Education
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.
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Everyone’s collecting stories. Stories of pain, stories of laughter, stories colored by changes seemingly beyond our individual small worlds, both political and not. It’s funny just how much flows in undercurrents of all our lives, emotions and fantasies drawn only by our pens and scribed only by our minds on metallic tapping on keys late into the night. Blueprint started as a space for the engineers on North Campus to make their creative mark where there hadn’t been one before. Now, that’s no longer the case, because Blueprint has grown to become a place for everyone to be creative. Our members are diverse, coming from backgrounds ranging from art to biology to computer engineering to business. The biggest treasure of it is what is hidden behind these labels. It is a plethora of talents unseen except in the works produced. It is an unquenchable thirst to talk about things that make life a little more meaningful everyday. We have a fallen angel, musing over the world and grand wings curled about. We have letters dated to our best friends, our dear ones, the people who matter most. We have beautiful mosaics created by careful hands and an amazing eye to detail, works one definitely doesn’t see everyday. Blueprint was passed down to me from a long-time veteran, who knew the ins and outs of this club long before I came to UM as an undergraduate freshman. In the three years I’ve spent here, Blueprint has grown significantly. Certainly, it’s grown in number, structure, and in its literary and artistic public presence. However most specifically, it’s become a family to me. Hopefully this is true as well to my fellow board members, who carry each other in both times of long tired nights and of incredibly bad, quotable jokes, and to our new members, many of them finding their fit on this campus. In this publication, we collected stories that we saw as above all, genuine. You, your friends, and we own this creative creation collectively. No matter what time of mood or day, we hope you have just as much fun poring through it as we did making it. With that, I present to you the 2017-2018 Edition, Issue Seven of Blueprint Literary Magazine. Katherine Qiao
BPLM 2018 Issue Seven
TABLE OF CONTENTS 6
Controlled Chaos or Chaotic Control?
How to Fall in Love Completely
Watch Me Play
Repeat, Repeat, Routine
Strangers and Fools
Shades of Color
Ode to Deception
The One Who Sobs Over Sidewalk Cracks
On My Way
Self-Portrait as a 22-Year Old
Thelonious Yahya Sonia Lee Christine Mackenzie
Romy Sharma Yiting Luo
Christian Weigelt Katie Raymond Sarah Stone Jay Kim Lukas Taylor
Aliya Falk Paige Wilson
How an Artist Made a Sculpture
Maligne Lake Explorers
Maligne Lake Canoes
The Unbearable Heaviness of Being
How to Lose a Losing Battle
Herbert Lake Reflections
Starving My Newsfeed
Tales of Barbed Wires
Dogs Can Be Feminists, Too
Tampon Tax Poster
None Of Us Are: A Thank You To My Best
Alexander Mullen Benjamin Biber
Things You Should Know Before Dating Me
Boys Will Be
Over These Years, Our Friends
Miura Birds 1
Claire Abdo Katherine Qiao Sonia Lee
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Miura Birds 2
Seeking Un-Solitary Non-Confinement
Shades of Orange
Painted Sky Crow
Forgetting for Allen Ginsberg
Floating in Tempests
The Tale of Morozko
Ocean Magic Pendant
Artists & Authors
Humza Khan Yeshasvi Mahadev Katie Raymond Miriam Francisco
Christian Weigelt Yiting Luo Christian Weigelt Christine Mackenzie
UNTITLED by Anonymous
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FALLEN ANGEL by Yiting Luo
LIGHTS 1 by Sonia Lee
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I, RIVER by Thelonious Yahya a multitude of sustenance stretches over me. Again, it blankets all of me. A blue blooming, sweeping from my shoes widens over and up my skin until it shudders. Then it thins into reflect, into smoky hues imploding. Branches, leaves, a goose glide along my slither. The bottom, burning with gross weight, containing murky, quirky vertebrates. You can lay beside me, contemplate, tune your rush to mine, and when it’s raining I’ll giggle. I’ll rapturously flow, even in autumn.
LIGHTS 2 by Sonia Lee
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THE WALLS by Christine MacKenzie Beating hooves flung chunks of mud through the air, beating across the terrain twisted by heavy rocks and roots, the beauty of which escaped the rider. Instead her vision remained back at her ailing mother’s bedside, the unforgettable contrast between her white, cracked lips, skin that discolored in pale and purplish patches, and those eyes--fiery, refusing to submit to death. She fell to her knees on the splintered wood floor and clasped her mother’s fingers, Mama, you can’t leave me. You just can’t. And her mother would reply, My sweet girl, I wish I could stab Death in the throat, but I have no strength. Just stay with me until I go. And listen to the things I have to tell you. She spent a year at her mother’s eventual deathbed, wiping wet rags on her head and boiling her funny herbs she acquired at the darkest edges of the city, spoon feeding her that pungent liquid. In between dry coughs, mother would rasp: the love that exists between husband and wife is one of proximity and obligation, don’t forget that, and the wife always gets the short end of the stick. Her response was silence--not of doubt, but shameful agreement. Dozens of letters were sent to her husband with few words in reply. She dismounted her horse at the foot of mossy stone blocks that stacked past the feathery clouds, the breeze whipping stray red hairs and nose held up to the sky, breathing in that familiar scent of home. Forgotten details fell over her in waves, similar to the raging blue sea that crashed into foamy mist and muddied the rocks that blanketed her horizon. Home, she convinced herself, I’m finally back. Her future surfaced in mind, caging her in a fight to forget the inevitable. Her daughter would kneel on sore bones, tending to her in bed until eyes shut and air escaped lungs and all but a stiff body would be left of her. Until her flesh dissolved in putrid chunks in a sea of hungry maggots, the bones of her hands collapsing into sand, her eyes but dark holes punched in a cracked skull. She thought it foolish to fear the inevitable, the deaths of her husband and children and everyone she had ever known, but the pain fell through her tears in the wind, no matter what she wanted to believe. Yet here she stood at the precipice of life and death, much like the split moment before the blind mouse’s neck is snapped in the cat’s teeth. “My lovely wife has returned, after all this time away,” Lord Bennett pecked her on the cheek, his coarse beard scratchy on her skin,“A million years must have passed since I last saw you, my dear.” “To me, it seems like just yesterday when you saw me off.” She pressed her fingertips against his chest, the anxious need to be close to him stirring in her blood.
“Well, your sense of humor hasn’t left you, I see.” He removed her hands from his jacket, smoothing over the wrinkles. And she masked her confusion with a soft smile, the distance between them swelling like a pustule. Deep in thoughts about elsewhere, his eyes disappeared into the white walls behind her. Each turn of the phrase, each gesture used to flow so predictably between them that the marriage, though arranged, progressed like the joining of two rivers at the mouth of a grander unknown. His speech was stilted and mind scattered, as she continued to talk to him about nothing in particular. The subject never mattered--never does with love, or wanting to love. But those small shifts in his speech patterns and the twiddling of his fingers lit a fiery itch so deep in her chest she had the urge to tear all her hair out. All that time wasted cultivating something out of nothing! Unflinching at the image of a mutilated braid bloody on the floor, she continued smiling at him. “You didn’t have too much fun without me, my lord?” She asked, her eyes flicking back and forth narrowly. He buckled over in laughter, “You’ve grown into an old woman, haven’t you? Don’t start pestering me about things like that.” “Of course,” she held in her trembling rage with grace, grasping her trembling hands behind her back. “I’m a bit tired from the long journey is all. I won’t let it happen again.” Eyeing each glass cup and piece of pottery across her bedchamber, she had the impulse to smash them into chalky shards. Each waking moment away in the mountains she thought about him, seeing the past through the lens of perfection, a shattered illusion. What dangerous relief there is in the complete and utter destruction of everything but the self. Instead, she ran into the forest kicking trees and stripping off their bark with her fingernails, chipped off and blood running down her knuckles. A hundred eyes were upon her as she descended the staircase and took a seat next to her husband, avoiding his playful gaze. Her broken skin draped in white gauze and hidden under silken gloves, her hands folded stiffly in front of her. The discomfort permeating the room was apparent to everyone but her husband, who stood up to give a toast: “Lady Bennett has returned to us this evening, after a long year away. Oh, what a year it was, eh?” In agreement, the crowd chugged down their drinks and broke out into conversation, only snippets reaching her ears: And that storm lasted for a full month, Rob, I’m telling you. Not a drop has fallen out of that sky, you must’ve had too much wine. In the midst of the commotion his eyes continued to search for hers,
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but she turned her head the opposite direction. “What did they tell you?” he snarled from the corner of his mouth, “Who told you? All the rumors are lies.” “Is there something I should know?” she asked, innocently. “Of course not, my dear,” he said, “As I told you, the rumors are lies.” He kissed her hand, and she flinched in pain. “What’s wrong with you?” “Nothing, nothing.” she said, “I’m fine.” She protested as he took off her glove and saw dried blood that had seeped through. “Who did this to you?” he grabbed her wrists. “No one. I did.” “Stop lying to me. Tell me who did this so I can have his head on a stick.” “No one,” she began to tear up, “Why don’t you ever believe me?” And he let her go. Following the lavish feast in celebration of her return--at which she barely finished a glass of red wine--Lord Bennett barely said a word as they slept on the same silken bed. He brushed away her touch the same way one would brush away a pesky fly bumping against one’s flesh. By candlelight in a blurry hand-held mirror she examined each flawed feature on her face: slight wrinkles at the corners of her eyes, dimpled cheeks, freckles clustering near her ears and on her jawline, several gaping pores. Looking lovely a few steps away, looking horrendous a few inches from her skin. Perhaps her hair’s brilliant red sheen has faded or her skin has become unevenly patched with freckles, a severe departure from the perfection he expected. Perhaps her voice has become deep and scratchy, her eyes too weak to see that her youthful beauty has escaped her in the past year. Barely a touch had graced her flesh, barely a word from him had reached her ears, and she languished in agony with the realization that his interest in her had burnt out the past year. She could almost remember the urgency with which he pressed his hot flesh against hers, the whispered confessions of love that escaped their mouths between kisses. At certain moments she felt as if she were the center of his universe, the flaming sun he gravitated towards out of need, not want. She knew that forever was a delusion, but she couldn’t refuse the possibility that they were the exception. That their love would burn brightly for all of eternity, their love was different from all other loves that burnt out in a quiet breeze. On a night about a week after her return, when Lord Bennett fell fast asleep, a whisper echoed from the walls of her bedchamber. Her entire body paralyzed with fear as she attempted to shake her husband awake. It’s me. We’ve met before, remember? She had the voice of a child, her heart racing even faster. Hesitantly, she responded: Are you speaking to me? I am, Lady Bennett, but I don’t have much time. You have to listen to what I tell you. Don’t wear the gowns you left at the castle. Burn them immediately. She heard the patter of small footsteps fade away into the passages
forged thousands of years ago, now a sealed off maze, as she thought about those words in the darkness. While she dreamt her knuckles hit the wooden castle gates with unbelievable rage, splinters jutting out of her skin and bloodied knuckles. She screamed for them to let her in, but all she heard was laughter. Picking a hair off of her clothes, she gasped in horror when it shone silver in the sun, her body covered in rags, her skin creased with wrinkles. Lord Bennett was on a horse with another woman, but she was young and beautiful. The woman dismounted from the horse and smiled at her. Please, Miss, I’m starving, reaching up to them. And in the darkness of her dream she awoke with sunlight caressing her face. In her dressing room a royal blue silk dress trimmed with gold ribbon donned the mannequin her servants had set up. Reaching out only to touch the fabric, her hand recoiled as the little girl’s words echoed through her mind: Don’t wear the dress. She settled on a green gown her mother had sewn for her instead. She remembered when her mother said There are many ways to a man’s heart. In a wave of inspiration, she collected her embroidering materials and headed to the sunny gardens teeming with exotic plants and birds. Surely, her expert embroidering skills would win back Lord Bennett’s favor. She beheld two brightly green birds flying together, intermittently pecking at and cuddling with each other. She couldn’t tell the difference between them, as the two of them appeared to exist as one. At least in the romanticism of an image their love would be eternal, unchanging. Her blood ran hot with fury. As she entered her dressing room to put on her nightgown, Lady Bennett screamed in horror at the dead woman on floor, face down in a pool of her own blood that soaked into the blue fabric of the dress her servant wore. Someone wanted me to die today. Each breath she took, each blink, the beating of her heat, had a special significance with the realization that I was supposed to die. And yet she’s dead, not me. “Don’t be ridiculous, no one wants you dead,” he told her. “Just listen to me,” she said, “There’s this feeling I have, but I can’t explain it. Just believe me for a moment.” “As long as I’m here no one will dare to lay a finger on you.” “But they’ve tried, they could have,” she insisted. The open window let in a breeze that fluttered the curtains, revealing the yellow moon and blinking stars that burned cooly in the night. All the candles had burnt out, and Lord Bennett huffed and wheezed in his sleep. She heard a knock through the walls. I’m still awake. Tell me, how did you know? Who wants me dead? I need to know. Don’t drink the wine. The wine is bad. Knowing won’t help you, only
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hurt you. She continued to plead with the voice until she fell asleep, but there was no response. Besides the heavy breathing and wind rushing through the night, all was silent. “Everyone, I’d like to have your attention. Let us raise our glasses to a successful growing season. We expect the East to have a plentiful harvest when the time comes.” The air filled with the sound of clinking glasses and the smell of alcohol, heavy pats on the back and cheerful conversations taking over the room. Lady Bennett’s full glass of wine remained untouched on the table. She stared at the purple concoction as if she were staring at Death itself, the image seared into her mind of the woman trying on her dress and collapsing as the poison seeped into her pretty skin. Even if imagined, the scene shocked her. “Not drinking, eh?” Lord Bennett chugged down the glass greedily. She reached her hand out, but it was too late to stop him. One moment to the next, he seemed perfectly pleasant. As if nothing had changed. Her eyes flickered back and forth watching the color of his skin, his expressions, in case something were to change. “You look like you saw a ghost!” he said, chuckling to himself. She woke up next to a dead man. Pale and still. Nothingness, that’s what she felt. As if she were in a dream, that this wasn’t real. Whispers across the castle traveled fast, and a blonde woman cried over his body. The woman told her that she was in love with him, that they would finally be together, then she was found dead at the bottom of the highest tower, blonde hair tangled and bloody.
STYGIAN ECLIPSE by Nisha Patel
CONTROLLED CHAOS OR CHAOTIC CONTROL?
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BLISS by Romy Sharma in a perfect world there are rose lattes jazz records strawberry cocktails and dancing with a set of arms on his neck and his on your waist
LIAR by Yiting Luo
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HOW TO FALL IN LOVE COMPLETELY by Davanna White complete [kəm’plēt] adj. 1. Having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full 2. Thorough; entire; total; undivided, uncompromised, or unmodified Grow up believing that you are the biggest threat to everything around you. You cry when your brother crushes the spider crawling across his bedframe and apologize profusely to the cat after stepping on its tail. Your hands feel large, fumbling, and you are afraid to caress fragile things. Stuffed animals have names and personalities and if you don’t rotate through sleeping with every single one you feel such guilt that you buy them a new friend. Outside you water the plants too much, roots saturated, until your mother tells you that if you water them too much you’ll kill them. You say you don’t want to water the plants anymore. You make your long-term friends in fifth grade. In middle school, you are growing and still have front bangs and wear outrageously bold clothing and graphic tees. After a few weeks you are standing outside before school and your friends tell you that you have dandruff in your hair. Your face flushes bright red and you don’t feel pretty anymore. They laugh and you slump against the wall with a sudden desire to fake sick and call home. For three years they do this, and you spend your time in the shower scrubbing your head until it bleeds. No matter how hard you scrub, you still feel dirty. Share your food with your friends at lunch. Offer to pay for food when you go shopping. Even though you know it’s a terrible idea, incorporate characters for each one of them in the sub-par short story or novella or whatever the hell it is you write in eighth grade. Let your friends who aren’t good at math cheat on homework. Get caught, get scolded. Let them do it again. Pretend like it doesn’t bother you when they call you stupid or pretentious or full of yourself, but say something after they spend a year making fun of any physical contact you make, calling you a lesbian. Pretend like it bothers you even less when they don’t stop calling you a lesbian and making fun of your behavior after you repeatedly tell them to stop. They can’t mean it, right? You stare dumbfounded when they insult you, unable to conjure vile words to retaliate. But still you return to the same table each day, run errands and turn in papers and lend out completed homework and occasionally bring in gifts specially tailored to each person. You
personalize everything with little notes and end them with hearts. They’re your friends, after all. When they stop, years later, you forgive them even though they never apologize. You love them anyways. You date a boy with pretty blue eyes and a smile that could light up a room, one who hides his feelings behind simple humor and persistent academic success. He tells you before you start dating that he has clinical depression and you say it doesn’t matter. You like him anyways. You like him when he doesn’t like himself and you like him when he talks about all the ways he could end his life. You like the way he kisses you and you like the way he touches you and you like the way he fucks you. After admitting he loves his ex-girlfriend and tells you the backstory of his condition, like turns to love. Welcome him back into your arms when he shows up at your door with a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day and offers to take you to dinner. Tell your friends he chose you instead of her, smugly, and lean into his frame on the couch like nothing ever happened. You find out, months later, that he was screwing around with her before and after this incident. But it’s okay—you forgave him for his wrongdoings months before they were confirmed. Even though you were off his mind long enough for him to love another, you love him anyways. Just him. Completely. His friends accuse him of cheating again and he hastily defends himself, presenting screenshots easily fabricated and looking at you with those blue eyes you know so well. He doesn’t lie to you; he just skirts the truth. He pulls out a ring and slips it onto your finger and you forgive him, again, for what you think will be the last time. You spend four months in paradise—no fights, no doubts. He is caring and he is compassionate and he is sweet. You take a vacation together and he talks about marriage, colloquially. He knows how he’s going to propose and when, but he won’t tell you and that’s okay because it should be a surprise. When you are away he calls you frequently and you talk or play video games, speak of how much you miss each other. And when you visit it’s like meeting anew, heart skipping beats and passionate love. Lying naked in bed on a Saturday morning, he goes silent. You ask him what’s wrong and he says he doesn’t deserve you. Not with what he did—the lying and the cheating. As he starts to cry, you reach up and wipe
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a tear from his eye, sit up so you’re eye-level and speak to him. It’s okay. It’s okay, I forgave you a long time ago. You deserve me, okay? You deserve the world and I don’t want you to forget that. I love you. I love you more than anything in the world. He cries the second time he visits, too. This time it’s about trust, and you tell him you trust him wholeheartedly, even though you know you shouldn’t. You may forgive but you don’t forget, and neither does he. You notice, after the second time, his demeanor begins to change. In daily banter he doesn’t respond to jokes the way he normally does, shrugs off terms of endearment and cares less about what’s going on. He’s spending more time with his friends, which is okay, you think, because he needs friends too. He’s pushing you away and you know it—he’s done it before—but you refuse to admit it. You scramble instead for a solution, confront him multiple times about it, attempt, fruitlessly, to sew the pieces back together. He tells you two days before you’re supposed to see each other again that he’s fallen out of love with you. That there’s someone else. You spend hours on the floor of the bathroom, door closed, heaving sobs so violently your entire body is shaking. But I loved him completely, you think, when did my love become not good enough? You still ponder this thought and it drives you effectively insane. When he breaks up with you in the parking lot of your high school, you cling desperately to the hope that he’s willing to take another chance. His mind is made up, though, and he cries before you do, because breaking your heart is another thing he swore to never do. You helped save him from himself and he is breaking you, deliberately. How’s that for payment? You now struggle to get out of bed, shake violently when he texts you, grasp for anything to make you happy again. You start seeing a therapist. You debate, seriously, the prospect of hurting yourself physically because mentally you’re just beating yourself over and over and over with a hammer and you don’t know how to stop. You don’t know how to stop loving. You can’t hate him for what he’s done to you. You can pretend like you do, claim you want to hit him with a truck or some other such nonsense you don’t have the capacity to complete, but you know. You know if he showed up to your door and begged for forgiveness, even just needed a place to stay, you’d let him in again. You’d let him hurt you again. It’s not right and it’s not in your best interest, but you love him anyways. You grew up believing you were the biggest threat to everything around you, but the reality is that you are the biggest threat to yourself.
WATCH ME PLAY by Natasha Gibbs
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BLUEPRINT by Christian Weigelt Dropped into a grey ocean on Monday We struggled to float during the long hours Homework chilled us weekly and oh-surprise: Midterms suddenly crashed towards us like glaciers, Just when you thought you could catch a breath, a project made you gulp more saltwater. Whether it was angry roommates once again, following us like shifty sharks, taunting, Or just our consciousness lashing out once more, Recapping how procrastination wonâ€™t work at all, There stood waiting the mother with open arms, At the end of a long week to dry our tears, And comfort us from the awaiting next weekâ€™s fears.
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REPEAT, REPEAT, ROUTINE by Katie Raymond
EMPATHY by Sarah Stone
This morning I saw my daughter’s eyes in the waiting room like two dull moons so familiar and wet. I met Emily. her yellow skin scared her but not because she saw time decaying like her liver because learning to ride bikes is supposed to supersede mortality but because jaun dice is two syllables and she can spell only one hour later I feel my husband’s hand in the exam room. Blue pen blotched wrists he writes poetry on Sunday’s that say he’s not scared of hurting but providing. I listened to my mother’s lungs just a moment ago.
I heard second hand smoke from her mother’s bad habits she didn’t mean to inherit addiction just her fingers piano fingers. She tells me she used to play while I listen to her heartbeat. It softens with memory it synchs our pulses our pain matrices firing sliding towards one another like magnets. Because when she tells me she never intended to have habits when she tells me she’s hurting I understand to find pain in her fingers because all they wanted was to play differently from her mother but all they knew was imitation.
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FLATLAND by Lukas Taylor Have you stood at the edge of Las Vegas? The flatland extends from your feet for miles before it bends and curls its way into mountains. Behind you, the lights feel insignificant compared to the desert surrounding it. There is something uncanny about it. Square your shoulders against the city. Stand so every building is outside of your peripherals. Look only at the dirt and your mind gets flooded with anxious questions. Does the air get
CONTOURS by Jay Kim
thinner out there, as you step away from the city? When I turn around, will the city disappear, leaving me in the darkness? Whatâ€™s hiding in those hills? The bright lights of the city are not there to be flashy. They arenâ€™t there to lure in gamblers. They are there because if you switch them off, the darkness will seep into the city like smoke. It will creep in through locked doorframes and creaking windows and erase the city.
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STRANGERS AND FOOLS by Christine MacKenzie Before a single word had passed her lips, or a secret smile exchanged, he knew that he had become one of those fools who had fallen in love with a complete stranger. Yesterday she had quietly moved into the apartment across from his; through the peephole he saw the back of her head, cloaked in wavy blonde hair that fell past her shoulders, a box in one hand and a violin in another. Her movements had an air of sadness and complexity that he struck him, drawing him into her image much like a blind person seeing colors--red, blue, green--for the first time after only reading about them. Through the walls he heard the melancholy pull of her violin, the peaks of each phrase decaying into the air much like cry of despair muffled in a pillow--meant for no one but one’s own catharsis. In the midst of Dvorak’s Romance Op.11, at a high-pitched breakthrough, that’s when the blood drained with horror at the realization that he had started to love her. And that he had fallen into an endless abyss at the mercy of this woman--how naive can I be?--and that he had to extinguish this feeling. Reluctantly, he knocked on her door and the music stopped with a screech. A painful minute passed before he tried again, immediately hearing a barely audible Yes? She opened the door a small crack, her face shrouded in darkness. Yes, how can I help you? Her features were blurred in the shadows, but her large cerulean eyes were quite clear and expectant. “I thought I’d introduce myself to the new neighbor,” he said, “What a musician you are! I’m Daniel, nice to meet you.” He stuck out his hand, she didn’t take it. “I apologize,” she said in a raspy tone, “I’m not particularly good with people, so please excuse me.” Pausing for a moment, she added, “Thank you, however.” She gave him a meek smile and closed the door. His first impulse would be to twist his face in frustration--How rude, he should think--but completely irrationally he felt his palms sweaty and heartbeat quicken. Her image never left his eyes, tasting like sweet candy each time he realized it was still there. As a photographer that exalted sweetness typically lasted for a moment, forgotten the next, whether the image of a weeping woman staring into a mirror or a young couple kissing in a grassy meadow. His intrigue surrounding this woman was undeniable. He imagined all sorts of scenarios that led up to her pained existence,
alone but for a violin. Perhaps her ex-husband had left her for a more exotic woman, the betrayal leading her to exist forever within a single fold of time that defined her music; perhaps she had put on magnificent performances in the streets, inevitably ignored and disparaged, causing her to denounce all of humanity as worthy of her music. That night he dreamt that she told him the truth about herself, and that he knew everything there was to know about this woman. He woke up with the calm feeling of enlightenment, but lost it immediately when he realized he couldn’t remember a word she said, only that she smiled at him and held his hand. At the sound of a knocking across the hall, he leapt out of bed to look out the peephole: a severely thin woman with a sharp, black bob and feisty expression entered her apartment. The polar opposite to the woman who lived there. He pretended to that he needed to take out the garbage when the woman’s friend left a couple hours later, giving her a friendly Hello that she returned with a wide grin. Her name was Vivian and the woman across the hall was Emma--sweet but broken, was what she said in a hushed whisper, but don’t tell her I said that. She winked at him as she headed down the staircase. He sighed as he lugged a nearly empty garbage bag down the stairs after her. *** Each day during the following month he’d convince himself that his feelings had passed, but inevitably at the sound of her violin and the flashes of her image that would follow he had to admit his foolishness. He couldn’t help but question his sanity each time he thought about her and watched her come and go from her apartment and awkwardly say Hello in the halls. She reminded him of something he once read in Crime and Punishment: “We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” Every now and then he would run into Vivian and chat with her about the latest movie she watched, what paintings she was working on, etc., for the slight chance that he’d learn a tidbit about Emma. Just in speaking her name--Emma--he had to appear as nonchalant as possible, the same way he’d speak about a paint brand or brush type. He barely noticed how Vivian started wearing much redder lipstick and deeper V-necks and how she would lay her hand over
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his hand or on his shoulder. All he could see or think about was Emma. She remained so surreal, so fantastical, in his mind that he could scarcely believe when she knocked on his door, asking if he’d want a cup of tea. He jaw dropped when he opened the door and in the noon brightness he saw the right side of her face for the first time, completely disfigured with red, swollen patches. He tried to focus on her eyes, her smile, acting natural as if he wasn’t surprised. Oddly, her scars only interested him further, as if they were ornaments to her beauty. “Sounds great, I’d love that,” he followed her into her kitchen, bare and unremarkable, the kettle beginning to screech. “I only have black tea, so I hope you like that.” “Anything’s good, I’m not picky at all.” As she poured him a cup, he felt a voice in his head nagging him to ask her why she had invited him for tea. “Vivian talks about you all the time,” she said, “I hear you’re a photographer, right?” “Yes, yes. I haven’t shot that breakthrough photo just yet, but I’m working on it, so in the meantime I still have to work part-time in a restaurant.” “Interesting,” she thought for a moment. “Not really, but I appreciate the sentiment,” he said with a laugh. “I never actually heard about what you do.” “Because I don’t,” she said, and left it at that. It seemed that he had struck a nerve, so he switched the subject. “We’ve been neighbors for a while now, and we’ve never had tea together,” He took a sip of the tea, inhaling notes of citrus. “That’s true, but from all I’ve heard from Vivian you’re worth having tea with.” In the brief time they spent in conversation her demeanor had shifted from morbidly shy to witty and lively. “And if we’re being honest, I’ve thought about you ever since that night you introduced yourself. That sounds crazy, I know, but I just had to say that. I just had to let go of that.” He was stunned--Is this real? Am I dreaming?--unable to think of a single word as his mouth gaped for a full minute. “I feel exactly the same way.” On an impulse he made the worst mistake possible and leaned in to plant a kiss on her lips. Unsurprisingly, she turned her head away and stood up from her chair. “I-I’m so sorry, I thought you meant…” “You thought wrong. Please, Daniel, I’d like to be alone now.” ***
For days he wallowed in agony over how comedically he had fucked up in the daze of his fantasies. He asked out Vivian to dinner and a movie. He captured photographs of her leaning on the railing next to the water, in the falling forest leaves, looking out the window, kissing him on the cheek. He took her back to his apartment. He listened to her talk about her opinions on the election, on politics, on the demise of modern art. All in fierce determination to forget about Emma. He invested in soundcancelling headphones to wear in the evenings while she played the violin, but he’d inevitably take them off when he slept and awake to the sound of her music. Reminded of the shock on her face when she pulled away. One time when he was with Vivian he said Emma, Emma and she angrily stormed out of his apartment at the crack of dawn with tears streaming down her face. What is wrong with you! She’s my best friend. Whatever. It’s over. She slammed the door in his face when he showed up at her house to apologize. She burnt his letters. She picked up the first guy who hit on her at a dingy, dimly-lit bar a block away, frequently walking past Daniel’s apartment building with a careful eye, wanting him to see her holding his hand or pecking him on the cheek. He did, but he didn’t give a damn. Shame sat heavily on his shoulders, but he felt nothing for her. Infatuation spurred a momentary break in sanity or sense or morality--whatever you want to call it--and his mind felt like a stranger. He practically leapt at the first job offer he got as an assistant at a wedding portrait studio, located about a two hour drive south. After a few years he married a photography student who interned there one summer, and soon had a pair of twins. Never did he mention Emma to his wife or kids, but she never ceased to confound him.
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by Kate Bishop
Yesterday, it snowed, and I was so frozen, I shattered under the gentle wind. Yesterday, it was your dark hair blanketing the sky and you made the world gray. Yesterday, I couldn’t get out of bed for fear of slipping on the very earth beneath me. Today, though, today the trees are glimmering with leftover silver, chiming and twirling in an efflorescent gesture of greeting. Today I am golden and whole. You are not here anymore.
You don’t have a hold on me anymore, that’s what I’m saying now. But something does. Something has its hands on me. They’re not his; I wish they were. They’re not yours, either. Maybe it would be better if they were. Instead, now I can’t control my own hands. Sometimes my voice has its own mind. Either that or I just enjoy self-sabotage. My brain has a tongue and it has a way with words. I wish people knew they weren’t mine.
fifteen months, revisited SEPTEMBER 20th before, the world was heavy and lethargic. I was tired of living in a blur of half-imagined memories and that lump in my throat. while the sky has been gray again these past few days, today was a welcome rest from the glare of the sun; it was an embrace like yours. things are a comforting sort of rainy-day cloudy with you. we can stay wrapped together or let the storm envelop us. I’d follow you into a hurricane and we’d emerge laughing on the other side.
NOVEMBER 5th being in love is like stepping into a room with wooden floors, rain drumming on the windowsill. you smell smoke from the fireplace, but you have something else to warm your hands. Someone, I mean. they are comforting - a single home for all the separate parts of you. with that sense of belonging is a constant, droning ache. a sense of belonging to, not just one of having. it’s fear, the sense of getting lost in the desires of someone else to fulfill your own. it’s scary. yet it’s the only thing worth returning home for. my hands will remain cold until they can be in yours.
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MINE by Aliya Falk I’m only happy when I’m with you.
Tangled, we woke, Brooklyn outside the window romantic places followed us everywhere we’d go. side by side on the edge, of the bed we sat.
is what I should have said but the hope it wasn’t true was what held me back that day in Brooklyn, on your bed
guilt came, I felt ashamed, to feel nervous to say the truth to you, the one to whom I felt most true, So I lied. I’m happiest, when I’m with you… the breath came out easier than the words, that tasted modified on my tongue. the fear of depending on a boy, who depended only on his clever mind, wise with age he hadn’t aged, his own crowd staring at his own stage
and when we were no more, the places we had gone stopped seeming so surreal. you said you can’t control how I feel, when I asked you where your love had gone, and if you’d help me lose mine too. so I switched my source of strength, and struggled in the dark, until, I controlled the reins of my mind, enough, to stop searching for that windowsill I guess you did not know your love was keeping me awake, but once it left, though I felt the theft, my happiness wasn’t yours to take.
SHADES OF COLOR by Ophelia Deng
ODE TO DECEPTION by Neha Dhawan Maybe, I should give you up now. Let you vanish in the sea of stars, and refuse to see you twinkle again. I should let go off this insipid aftertaste of rejection, and let it sink in the unfair deception. I should let the mountain-like memories disperse like bubbles, and let the stifled air breathe. I should let go off my apologies to you: the tears that burned my face, barely ever touching your heart. I should let go off that perfect you who existed but in my heart. I must just give you up now.
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THE ONE WHO SOBS OVER SIDEWALK CRACKS by Hannah Blaauw Other children play on pavement. This one sobs over sidewalk cracks. She drops to her knees and peers into the void, searches the space where pieces were supposed to meet but didn’t, gaps where a presence should be but isn’t. She wraps her hands around nothing and cries over what she feels. They tell her to get up and stop crying, to walk and not stop. They tell her that there is nothing to be upset about. It’s only life, it’s only normal, it’s only a line in the pavement. They cannot see the sorrow that seeps from the pores of the earth or observe the battle that creeps from every opening in the ground: light meeting dark, sound meeting silence, existence meeting absence. They do not hear the conflict of laughter and wailing existing together, the deafening contrast of life itself. But this one does. She sees far more than she wishes to. She gazes at everything and nothing. She is a child who plays with eternity and bathes with death. Turning the faucet, she stands in the steam, watches it curl into ideas and ghosts before she breathes them in and becomes one with them. Her reflection in the mirror ages before her eyes, as do the ones she loves. Every moment everything changes and changes and changes and she cannot hold on. She has a young mind that is so devastatingly old. In the end, she can only stand paralyzed as pits open all around her, can only wrap her arms around herself as wars rage in the air, as the world fights itself in an arena of human oblivion. This seedling has emerged too early. She grows up in a world of biting frost while others enter through the comfort of warm soil. Go back under. They try to push her into the earth, but how can she live there when she knows what is above? Don’t think about these things.
They try to smooth dirt over her head but she cannot breathe. Be the child you should be. She canâ€™t. She looks and sees, she touches and feels, she listens and hears, she cups her hands and tastes the sorrow that flows from between the pieces that should have been whole. She fears death and existence at the same time, sobs over both brevity and forever. Trying to navigate a world of contradictions, she becomes one.
UNTITLED by Aliya Falk
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FLOWER GIRL by Paige Wilson based on photo by Becca Rudman
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ENOUGH by Alix Curnow Our sweaty thighs gripped the bus seat. A fake leather seat covered in holes. Holes paved over in duct tape. Easily fixable. His thin lips, still sticky from the popsicle he had been licking an hour before, pecked the back of my hand. A hand that became imprinted in orange dye from his frozen treat. I scurried off to daycare with butterflies boxing in my stomach and the gun to a 5k race shooting off in my heart. When my mom made dinner that evening, she told me I couldn’t eat if I was using my mouth to smile instead of chew. I remember thinking, “my hand is soft enough for a boy to want to touch.” I ate the rest of my meal. The dinners that followed were soon met with frowns instead of smiles but I guess it’s easier to chew meatloaf that way. Eventually, there was a new boy that started impacting my diet. The salt from the sea flew up into our noses. The sea that my grandma once described as “peaceful” was roaring before us but we couldn’t hear the power of the ocean over the sound of our own small talk attempting to avoid the silence that could only be filled by a kiss we were both too nervous to share. I could taste the metal of his braces in my mouth as he pulled away. When I looked down to see my reflection
in the hissing waves the next morning I remember thinking, “My face is pretty enough for a boy to want to kiss.” But like the braces on his teeth the kiss was only there during the stages of our growing pains. Growing pains that hurt us into different directions. The kiss was only practice for when the salt from the sea flying up into my nose was replaced by the smoke of a joint encompassing my lungs. This new boy played songs from bands I hadn’t heard of in the stereo of his car. His fingers tapped along to the beat against my thigh and made their way up to the button of my pants. And I already didn’t know the name of this album and if I told him no, my name wouldn’t roll off his tongue so charmingly. When he texted me the next day I remember thinking, “My body is sexy enough for a boy to want to grab.” My body. One that was riddled with holes. But this boy only filled one hole, and it wasn’t the more messy ones wrapped around my soul. Because, unlike the seats on that bus in second grade, my holes aren’t so easily fixable. And just like the others, he came, before he left. I looked to these boys for an answer but the only thing they could define were the parts of me they wanted to touch and none of them said my mind. I started looking in different directions. Those hissing waves the morning I saw my reflection were trying to tell me a lot more than what I had heard,
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showing me who I should want to be enough for. And it wasnâ€™t the boy whose grin was still crooked beneath his braces. Or the boy whose sticky legs graced mine on the seat of the bus. It wasnâ€™t the boy who smelt of marijuana and made music with his fingertips against my denim jeans. It was the girl in the water, with butterflies boxing in her stomach and the gun to a 5k race shooting off in her heart, staring back at me.
ON MY WAY by Shonda Adams
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SELF - PORTRAIT AS A 22-YEAR OLD by Katie Raymond
STATUARY by Hale The chisel of my experience brings me to my face. And parts of me broke off in a struggle, Features fell away as powdery dust, Lying at my feet from which I rise. You see even marble statues change, The pale stone reflects the moon, And full or new, I am still here, Whether you recognize me, Or not, I am a masterpiece, Even when you think Iâ€™m in pieces. And, honestly? I only really need one hand to shape myself anew.
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OLD FRIENDS by Sonia Lee
HOW AN ARTIST MADE A SCULPTURE by Eliot Caramanian I asked once when I was small In the mystifying town of Firenze How an artist made a sculpture. Before me was Michelangelo’s masterpiece And a picture of the stone from which he emerged. My mother explained to me That an artist saw not a piece of marble or stone But rather what was hiding inside And an artist simply knew Which rocks were the special ones A few hits of a hammer And voila! There it was. Michelangelo saw a misshapen piece of marble And recognized that his beloved David lay inside. Lying in wait Itching to be released. This had to be truth. How else could David’s curls look so unruly yet so contained? How could the folds of fabric in Pontius Pilate’s robes look as though they are capable of shifting With just a simple touch? How else could Mary’s eyes be filled with such life
While somehow lacking in the eyes of her son As he his limp body lay draped upon her lap? How can one almost see the gentle breeze As it kissed the hair upon the head of Aphrodite? How can we almost taste the twisted deliciousness Of the forbidden fruit? How through the monochrome stone One can still see the crimson flushed skin Of two lovers in the Trevi Fountain? I yearned to glean the secret of the artist And his incredible ability To appreciate the complexity and fluidity of nature And capture its essence. My mother showed me great works of art As we traveled the many countries of Europe During our four year stay in Germany. She brought to my life A thousand hues She displayed for me The incredible feats performed by the many artists That came before me. She taught me how to see.
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MALIGNE LAKE EXPLORERS by Susan Montgomery
MALIGNE LAKE CANOES
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THE UNBEARABLE HEAVINESS OF BEING by Christine MacKenzie Dear Angie, Late June of 1988, the summer prior to fourth grade. Out of all the decades past, I regret that period of my life most. We were best friends bound by matching friendship bracelets, to prove we were forever, by secrets whispered with hands cupped over ears--two peas in a pod, joined at the hip, or so I thought. Granted, I was only a kid. And I can’t blame myself for moving back to San Francisco, Angie, I had no choice. I did think about taking you with me, all curled up in my big, pink suitcase. You the castaway, I the liberator, the whole world at our feet. At school you wept and rocked back and forth at your desk, an unfortunate routine. Then Mrs. Smith would send you out to the hall, same as the rogues who clowned around and threw pencils at her back like a dart board. Morning before ‘we’ or ‘it’ happened, my dad cooked up a plate of chocolate chip pancakes and handed me a teddy bear to soften the blow of the news: “Honey, it’s finally been decided that we’re moving back to California!” Noticing my reaction, he said: “I’m sorry to tell you this, I know how hard this must be.” That instant I rushed to the phone. I picked up the landline and twirled the wire around my finger like when we’d talk for hours, and I punched in almost every number, stopping at the last one. Choking on the words ‘I’m leaving’, I put down the phone. You were different--or I was different--the next day. The taste of the air, the space in my throat. Comforting you in the hallway, patting your back as you put your face between your thighs, I tried to get the words out, but I bit my tongue when you looked up at me with your reddened, puffy face and big, blue eyes. How could I tell you that things were about to get worse? “Why are you crying? Tell me what’s wrong, Angie.” “Does anything ever go right for me? Every single thing is wrong, and I hate everything, and I hate being here most of all.” “You have me, don’t you? Just wait it out. There will be things to look forward to.” “Not for me. I’m a worthless bitch, that’s what I am. I deserve to feel this way.” My eyes widened, “No, no. Of course you’re not, you’re the best person I
know.” “Then maybe you don’t know me well enough.” “I think I do.” For a moment we gazed into each other’s eyes, then suddenly you kissed me. Thoughts of love--what it is, how it feels--ran through my mind for the first time, that pleasurable shock of discovery. But I didn’t know how to respond. You wept, I left. That pure lightness of children’s laughter, that inevitably lost joy unmatched by love and success--which we all know is for naught, but we never believe it--somehow escaped you. Somehow you skipped right ahead to the heaviness of eternal corruption, the tragedy of adulthood, without knowing the early sweetness of childhood. Nowadays I see you in my children’s eyes--hazel, much like their father’s. I see their pureness and ignorance uncorrupted and I want to see what you could have been. I see my children cry for a minute over a scraped knee or running out of their favorite ice cream flavor, but then the next minute they forget and they’re laughing like nothing matters or everything matters (I can’t tell which one it is). What happened to you that you couldn’t forget, that tears replaced smiles, and ignorance with awareness? What happened to you that broke the illusion of purpose that children and adults alike are all too happy to believe in? In the next week I witnessed a true glimpse into the heaviness that pervaded your life when you said: “Would you care if I died? I mean, would you forget me?” “What do you mean?” I asked, “Are you sick?” You tapped the left side of your chest, “My heart hurts, I think. But now I can’t feel anything, and I need it to stop.” “I don’t understand, Angelina,” I said, “I want to help you, but I don’t know how.” All I could do was lay your head on my shoulder, and hold you close for a while, traveling back to a forgotten time. “Would you care?” you asked again. “Of course I’d care, you’re my best friend. Forever, that’s what we swore.” I looked into your eyes wanting to see that you still believed in forever, but they were cold and empty, unlike the girl who used to climb trees barefoot behind the school playground or build fairy houses out of wood chips and pebbles with a calmness that I’d never known. Suddenly I hugged you--tight--just to remember what it’s like to be close to you, “Don’t ever leave me.” “Sometimes,” you whispered, “I think about leaving the world.” Again, I couldn’t help but remain silent, I wanted both of us to stay exactly where we were. Mere words could do nothing for you, but that didn’t stop me from trying. I begged, I pleaded, on my knees. “Why do I have to leave, Dad?” In the vile gaze of Mrs. Smith and those kids, leave you to burn in whatever hell lived behind your eyes, alone with no one to hug and to hold and to tell
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you that Everything will be okay. Everyone needs someone like that. To be there, to help. You stood on the edge of my hot driveway as my dad loaded the car with cardboard boxes. Your arms fell at your sides, limp as noodles, your knees buckling over. You wouldn’t return my smiles, your mouth remained shut as I said that we’d send letters and talk on the phone. I kissed you back against that old elm tree in my front yard. You didn’t wave as the truck rumbled into the distance. Did you receive any of my letters? Or my calls? Never did I know your words past the choked Goodbye and I’ll miss you, a shadow across my mind. Some pointillistic impression of your face runs across my eyes from that day--stoic and pale, a child’s--altered with each remembrance. Young as the pictures I kept of us, in a box stowed in the attic, opened only when my husband and I need to clear some space. I looked your name up in the phone book, I called old friends and classmates, and I asked my dad to no avail. You’d always remain an unsolvable mystery that would nag at me. Whether you suffered through the most unfortunate of tragedies, never knowing lightness at all. I’d like to imagine that you lived your life in reverse, however, from unbearable darkness to lightness. That you became the exception to us all. That suffering isn’t forever, that the concept of temporary is an unbearable blessing. But eventually I’ll have to break my promise, to let go and forget, to release this heaviness weighing down my soul. With love, Your best friend
MAGNOLIAS by Isabelle Huang
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HOW TO LOSE A LOSING BATTLE by Willa Hart how to lose a losing battle she tracks you, scent like dog, like cherry juice in treetops, like jagged. the soil hurts. you donâ€™t much mind. your thighs are falling apart under her gaze, sharp like a broken bowl: you think of metal, but canâ€™t taste it. you taste her, tortillas on a sunday night and the sting of humiliation at the back of your throat. you sigh.
THE VINEYARD by Aliya Falk
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HIGHWAY by Jenny Hong One Ford, two corpses, three-year-old baby. Sirens blaring. Eyebrows frowning. One pistol, two tickets, three riddles. Suicide, or homicide? Why, are they forsaken in the middle of a hustling freeway, till all warmth left their bodies, till Azrael fetched. I-90 runs as it always did. The autos race by, God forbid.
ALTERNATIVE ROUTE by Kate Bishop
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NOVEMBER 2016 by Willa Hart they say itâ€™s the will of the people. the people. in dim school basements, we cluster by white walls, fluorescent energy, the ache in the pit of your belly like cool stone. i make eye contact with you: there is something black tucked behind your eyelids. if this is the will of the people then the people are not here.
HERBERT LAKE REFLECTIONS by Susan Montgomery
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PAIGE by Claire Abdo
NISHA by Claire Abdo
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TIANA by Claire Abdo
STARVING MY NEWSFEED by Kaitlyn Wells Deleted my snapchat a couple days ago. Only miss my mystic weekly horoscope, not the mindless scroll through memes and 10-second artificially construed highs of my bitmojified friends. I still managed to exist without my carefully curated snapchat streaks. My friends moved on leaving me behind in the digital dust and my invisible cloak on the modern day Marauder’s Map wasn’t given a second thought. I embrace the blissful newfound ignorance and resolution to nose dive into my own thoughts. Clearing up the hoarding of insignificant notifications hijacking my attention away from my personal mischievous map. I swear I’m up to no good but I don’t need a broadcast to reinforce my flaws. It’s time to rediscover how to live with my self without the clutter of fake news.
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TALES OF BARBED WIRES by Neha Dhawan In the dingy lane of an ancient city, rain recites raw tales -of people who only use black old-fashioned umbrellas with twisted knobby wooden handles in the pouring rain. There is an old maiden who has brewed tea for decades on an old kerosene stove, sitting on the used jute bags. Her tattered shades have sheltered school kids in unkempt uniforms from the harsh sun and winter rains. On rainy days, she remembers the sunflower fields of her fiancĂŠ where her baby brother played. She recalls their brutal deaths and the barbed wire that was later laid. There is barber across the street; his shop teems with people on Sundays. His vision dimmed with age yet he dislikes wearing the thick glasses. Crinkled hands recognize the texture of every head, he has ever touched. On wet days when he plays his Murphy radio, he drifts to his home across the border marked by the barbed wires and patrolled by the soldiers. There was a pond in his village that once swarmed with the schoolboys, his last memory of that little pond was when it bled red with the dead. There is a man with milky white beard who rides the Hero bicycle with stainless steel cans of milk. He rings his rusted bicycle bell and quietly pours the milk with measures for widows in the neighborhood. On drizzly nights, he ruminates how savagely he killed men of the other religion; he has spent sleepless nights for years pitying himself and not the dead. On one overcast day, rain will sweep away all these stories And all that will remain will be history books without any history.
MEGAN by Paige Wilson
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MOTHER by Alexander Mullen
DOGS CAN BE FEMINISTS, TOO by Claire Abdo
mami querida, gracias por todo: For my hands, meant for building another man’s country. For my eyes, meant to look up at blue skies and blue eyes. Thank you for my fat lips meant for kissing, for my tongue meant for singing and for spitting, but tell me why no one here fucks with my hair, why no one fucks with my skin, why people see right through me, why I struggle to see myself in the mirror. mami querida, thank you for dusting me with your cinnamon and when I was sick, for tea de limon con canela y miel, for caldo de pollo con arroz y for never letting me know that I was different, for holding my head above water because I never knew that I was drowning until my lungs were heavy with milk, never knew why I liked Titanic so much until I realized I was reflected in the sinking boat on the TV screen, and when they said Alex has a mustache because he’s Mexican I would say Basically, I guess because I was too ignorant to know what ignorance was and white boys had no need to know they were ignorant.
mami querida, are you lost like me? Espera porque we need to go back, I think I left my heart somewhere on the border of Guatemala and Mexico, or maybe the border of Mexico and the United States, and I love the winter here because when I empty my lungs I know that I’m alive, I can exhale and see my breath turn to pearls and I see everyone else do the same. I think Michigan, fucking Michigan, kill me now because carbon dioxide doesn’t see color so why do I feel like I’m choking here? mami querida, I wish that you could watch yourself grow young in Delfina’s mirror, the armoire you left with your boxes back at home. I wish that one day you would wake up as a baby in a world where developing countries matched the developed countries and “3rd world country” wasn’t a bad word for brown. mami querida, please don’t think me prejudiced, think me a brown boy trying to keep his neck from breaking, his throat from closing up, think me a brown boy that wants more for his brown children. Think me a brown boy that wants to see the world reflected sepia tone in their coffee-colored eyes.
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THE WEATHER by Benjamin Biber I make small talk about the weather with my dad. It’s one of the three or four things I bring up with him, one box on a little spreadsheet xeroxed and tucked in a fold of my brain. There’s no unspoken rule or anything like that, but our conversations go best when controlled so I stick to what I know. This is not to say that we don’t talk much. We talk frequently and even energetically sometimes, and it never feels like an obligation or a burden. It just so happens that the weather usually comes up first and last. When I talk about the weather, I speak in psalms- it’s all praises and lamentations, histories and prophecies. I’m an astronaut of triteness, bringing the medium to new frontiers. “It’s a beautiful day” gains new life when spoken with excessive conviction. “It’s cold” offers a surprising diversity of opportunity for conversation, especially when followed by “as” and a choice expletive. That can lead to a hackneyed explanation of humidity and even to a physics lecture, in rare cases culminating in the opening of one or more Wikipedia pages, a clear sign of a successful conversation. More sticky things like pride and self-reflection are more difficult to elucidate or relate to the weather, and are usually avoided out of convenience’s sake. Goals are good when specific and material and can be safely shared. A raindrop, a flood, a blizzard: these things are real as anything and punch you in the face when you walk outside. Other things are flimsier. An idea, when probed, can dive into a corner or even implode. A snowstorm can be compared to the five inches of last week, the three feet of a few years ago, or even the monster of ‘88.. It has lived for many years and will live for many more- never disillusioned, never ignored, never pushed away.
TAMPON TAX POSTER by Paige Wilson
STOP THE TAX
Contact your legislators. Find out who to contact at www.usa.gov/elected-officials
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CLAIRE by Paige Wilson
NONE OF US ARE: A THANK YOU TO MY BEST FRIEND by Eliot Caramanian
You’re always the first phone call.
When our friend told me that I don’t
One word escapes your lips
And intense laughter escapes my own.
That I should go back where I came
You tease me for its absurdity,
Mocking its strange hiccups
Because my skin is a few shades darker
Until we both erupt in laughter
And vocabulary is two languages richer
Unable to control ourselves.
This boy felt no guilt for his racism
You came in my home
To shake my father’s hand
You tore him down
After his cancer diagnosis.
And made me feel safe and loved.
You looked him in the eyes
Your own filled with warmth and love
Who had been raised this way for years
And expressed your condolences
Apologized to me
And to tell him that you were praying
The boy who once thought I was less
Your stupid slapstick humor
Realized the error of his ways
Makes my insides hurt.
Because of you.
On my first birthday away from home
You taught me about my faith
My phone rang at midnight
And about the immeasurable love of
And of course it was you
Even though we were separated by
That my faith can make me whole
land and sea.
That it can heal my wounds.
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THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE DATING ME by Davanna White 1. I am a perpetual optimist. 2. I will never stop analyzing you. I will know the way you eat, the way you sleep, the way you breathe—eventually I will know what you are thinking before you’re thinking it. Do not try and tell me that we have something special, that this is what makes us unique. I overanalyze everyone I love, and I will be wrong at the worst times. 3. There will be days where I never want to get out of bed. Days where I will not be able to articulate my thoughts, folded so far into myself and unable to open. Hold me. Hold me until I figure out the right words to say. Hold me and be patient and I will tell you, because the frown you give my haphazardly constructed façade makes me more upset than my own thoughts ever will. 4. Sometimes I have dreams where I quite literally pick myself apart. Strip my body down layer by layer until I am nothing but bone. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with dissatisfaction when I stand in front of a mirror naked. It has everything to do with my parents pinching my stomach and telling me I look “chunky” and that maybe I should go for a run. It has everything to do with the pressure to live a better life than my father, a ticking time bomb of genetic disease and poor self-care. You can kiss the long, spindly pink fingers that climb up my hip bones and insist that I am the most beautiful woman you’ve ever known, but don’t be surprised if I never believe you. 5. When we’re lying in bed late on a Friday night, I will tell you that you deserve the world. I will repeat it as many times as you need to hear it. 6. I promise you that every day I am trying to forget the taste of his lips, the feel of his hands caressing my body. I am trying to forget the ways he called me beautiful and the occasional dreams I still have about him holding me. I will tell you I love him, but you have to understand that my love for others leaves my body scarred; his is still healing, but your wound is fresh on my bleeding heart.
BOYS WILL BE by Claire Abdo
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OVER THESE YEARS, by Katherine Qiao
BEST FRIENDS DON’T LIE Our hesitations do. I hope Let me spell it out, Carefully, graciously, I promise I’m not being sarcastic for once You’re my best friend, I love you, let’s hang out THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU CALL ME YOUR BEST FRIEND My prerequisites Are that we can talk About Anything Take my tantrums with a pill. I’m so sorry. My prerequisites Are that you don’t Throw the memories all back at me One day Charred and vengeful. Because I thought If I broke down in your presence You’d know Better than most Why Not make me Thin my lips together in disappointment, Anger that carries the weight of where tears would’ve happened instead, And think, Freaking, Again?
LATE NIGHT CONVERSATIONS We don’t talk anymore But I have the book That we giggled over as small spindly middle schoolers Hiding under the covers Phones pressed under layers of blankets Whispering over how the main character was stupid And the hot guy sitting in the apple of her eye Was even more On my bookshelf still Even after all these years If you dial at 2 AM I’m tired and cranky and maybe being a stupid adult (not) and bitchy and barb-tongued But what’s up? WHEN THINGS GO WRONG The periphery talks. They know. They take sides. He’s mad because she ignored him for a day. He got sensitive again. When someone calls you their best friend, You can’t exactly say...no. Right? Who’s trying harder?
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OF TIMELESS CONVERSATIONS We call these conversations gossip Because they paint winding paths, full of muffled snickers and blood drawn and whispers From topic to topic to HEY wait a minute. OMG. No that’s a bad idea. ...okay let’s do it anyways. Whoa. I gotta hear more. The periphery asks, Wow, those are huge message bubbles. Really? I didn’t notice. Big as the memories And as long as time spent. Worth it. I’ll be the first to ride your motorcycle. Laugh at my stupidity enough that I’ll laugh with you. Not at you. EXECUTIVE DECISIONS Video call while we go about our mundane, probably separate lives still Tapping these keys and bitching about procrastination and essays and everything in between. Don’t worry, they’re all just special snowflakes You wrote something new? YES. Let me read it now ...hey. Important question. What should I eat for dinner? Dude. Seriously? ...Yes. Sushi. Kay.
MAY WE BECOME ADULTS ONE DAY We dream, out loud How we’ll all live together In a big house in Seattle Living out loud, our dreams Unrestricted by the titles scripted in our school certificates Pushed to the limit by my and your encouraging words of “Don’t you dare say, ‘I can’t do it’” Because you can. BEST FRIENDS DON’T FORGET I hope you remember That one time we jumped out of a car Into that great big intersection Next to a mall that even my professors know of, two cities away On a day we were so rebellious And skipped school for the first time in 12 years Three years later we laugh. But no one else can. It’s our stupidity to own. I hope you remember My pain And yet, still, Keep listening I hope you remember When I came to your dorm at 2 AM Blubbering about shitty people And my dumb narrative of how equally shitty I am, have been, always will be Shut up. Pat head awkwardly. Now here is where you’re wrong. Point A, point B, point C...which leads back to point A anyways. Hey! You’re smiling again.
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MIURA BIRDS by Sonia Lee
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HORACE by Humza Khan Nothing Horace McCallister ever did was poetic. In fact, the man was just walking back to his car from an Applebee’s™. He had eaten some Grilled Chicken Wonton Tacos, a plate of Bourbon St. Chicken and Shrimp (part of their wonderful “2 for $20” deal), and topped it off with Applebee’s™ Signature Triple Chocolate Meltdown. His wife offered just a bite of her entrée, but he consumed what most would consider The World’s Largest Bite. The waiter brought them a check for $37.84. Horace’s wife, Brenda, and his two children, Oliver and Nancy, eagerly galloped their way to the family’s 2011 Chevrolet Malibu™. Despite it being a school night, the McCallisters were headed to the nearest theater to view the 7:30 (Post Meridiem, of course) showing of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 starring Kevin James. Horace was raised an enthusiastic fan of Mr. James’ work, and instilled the same love in his family. They had been wanting to see his most recent artistic endeavor for quite some time now. The family bought their tickets after waiting in line for what felt like an epoch. Brenda distributed the pieces of cardstock to the kids and put Horace’s ticket in his left breast pocket. “Kids keep track of your tickets. This place is really strict about that kind of stuff,” said Brenda. The children eagerly ran to the concession stand, drawn in by its glistening exterior and promise of fructose. Horace and Brenda lugged behind, trying to prevent their children from getting too far ahead of themselves. “Hi, what can I get for you today?” asked the teenage, acne-riddled cashier. “I want an ICEE®‼” cried Oliver. “I want an ICEE® too! And some chocolate!” yelled Nancy. “Hey, no fair! I want candy!” “Oliver! Nancy! Calm down,” scolded Brenda, while Horace stood gawking at the menu. “Hi, yes can we get one blue raspberry ICEE®, a fami-,” “One ICEE®? I don’t want to share with her!” shouted Oliver, vindictively aiming a pointer finger at his younger sibling. Nancy echoed the same sentiment. “There’s no way you can each drink a whole one by yourselves. You guys are sharing and that’s the end of that,” said Brenda, sternly. Horace still could not decide what to order. “Sorry about that. Yeah, one blue raspberry ICEE®, a family size popcorn, extra butter, and… honey what do you want?” Horace broke out of his trance, startled. “Uhhh, I’ll just have an extra large Dr. Pepper® please.” The ardor associated with this release was as intense as his previous films combined. After a quite lengthy string of hits, there were a growing
number of crooked folk that longed to see Mr. James fail and burn to the ground. Horace did not particularly want to bring them satisfaction. The movie theater staff prepared their order within three minutes. Oliver and Nancy eagerly began to sip their ICEE®, quickly transforming their lips to a frostbite blue. The family moved out of the way of oncoming foot traffic, not quite ready to head into the theater. “Do you want me to put velcro on your cup?” Brenda asked. “Honey, you know I can’t hold this thing myself.” Brenda reached into the depths of her purse and pulled out two little strips of velcro, each about half the size of a bandage. She placed each one on the outside of the cup so that they were on opposite sides. Horace grasped the cup with his velcro-laden hooves and began to sip. \\\///\\\///\\\/// On December 2nd 1991, a 15-year-old Horace McCallister woke up at 7:30 (Ante Meridiem, of course) to attend another day of classes at Grover Cleveland High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He sluggishly rose from his slumber and went to rid his mouth of the bacteria that had matured within the past seven hours. Still in a haze, Horace reached for his toothbrush only to push it off the counter, without ever grasping anything. His fingers were not functioning properly. It took Horace quite some time to understand that in fact, he did not have fingers on either hand anymore. Instead of his ten, sorely missed digits, he saw two, shiny black hooves. The skin on both his forearms had been replaced with a black-and-white splotched pelt. Horace was now 1/12th cow. His initial reaction was pure, unadulterated shock. Horace screamed loud enough to alert the worms in the Mr. Finch’s yard, who lived three houses down from the McCallisters. His parents and older sister came rushing to Horace’s room to find their once 100% human son and brother to now only be 92% human and 8% cow. The McCallisters were undoubtedly struck with horror and confusion; they did not understand what was going on. To be quite honest, it was a rather amusing sight to witness, at least as an omniscient narrator. In fact, you might be giggling to yourself right now, imagining a family reacting as if there was a gruesome murder that hit too close to home, but instead all that happened was a teenage boy woke up with cow hooves for hands. Dozens of second opinions later, no doctor could determine what exactly was wrong with Horace. They could not find anything that would trigger such a transformation, especially so suddenly. Horace’s cells did not contain a trace of cow DNA, but his arms still displayed features identical to those of a typical bovine, except for the dirt. Various specialists, homeopathic doctors, and a few people whose practices were nothing short of witchcraft attempted to tackle his peculiar case. Unfortunately
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for Horace, no healthcare professional came close to tasting the sweet nectar of success, and he has lived with this condition since. The media quickly caught wind of Horace’s fascinating story and before long, the McCallisters were bombarded with reporters at their door looking to get a peek at Horace. He was dubbed “The Cow Kid,” a label that stuck with him for quite some time. He was, of course, incessantly teased for a few months. Fellow teenagers used to recite libel such as “Moo cow moo!” (they were not an inventive bunch), but the initial shock subsided and he soon became yesterday’s news. Horace eventually came to terms with his newfound limbs and adopted them as part of his identity, and people largely remained unfazed when encountering him out and about town. Living life without opposable thumbs presents numerous challenges, as most cows would tell you. Horace was forced to adapt to a lifestyle of not being able to physically grasp objects of any sort. He no longer had the fine motor skills required to drink coffee, use silverware, or write with a pencil. After hearing about Horace during the height of his unwanted and undeserved fame, a team of engineers at Velcro® (the company) developed a system for Horace to implement. Adhesive-backed velcro strips could be stuck on various objects he used on a daily basis, and one of the opposite kind could be attached to each of his hooves. If he was outside of the home, he or someone in his party would carry extra Velcro® strips to stick on objects Horace needed to use. The method was far from perfect, but it helped give Horace the semblance of a normal life. Velcro® agreed to provide Horace with a lifetime supply of velcro strips, most likely for public relations purposes. \\\///\\\///\\\/// The family walked further into the hallway as Horace continued to sip, carefully cradling the Dr. Pepper® cup between both hooves, both attached to velcro strips. They were met by a 30-year-old man standing at a podium. Each family member except for Horace softly handed him their tickets. He ripped a perforated edge off each, as is customary. “Theater 12 is just that way,” said the podium man, pointing northeast. Brenda placed Horace’s torn ticket back in his left breast pocket. They entered the theater and found, as expected for this engagement, plenty of the seats to be full. Horace directed his unit towards the center of the center row - what he believed to be the optimal viewing position. On the screen was a pre-movie trivia question concerning Tom Hanks’ role in The Da Vinci Code. The answer was C. Brenda knew that, the kids did not, and neither did Horace. He had been wanting to watch it for years, and it was on his list, but always chose something else when it aired on television. He was currently far too concerned with the main feature he was about to see. Horace sipped. The pre-movie trivia questions kept coming. Would Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 live up to the hype so many had given it? Horace sipped some more. Some exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of a new Disney© movie began to play. Oliver and Nancy waged a small war over their ICEE® territory with neither side gaining much ground over the
other. What if the naysayers were right, and this was the beginning of Kevin James’ downfall? He could not bear to watch that play out before his eyes. Horace sipped and sipped and sipped some more. The brown, sugary syrup traversed his esophagus and accumulated in his stomach and eventually in his bladder. Ten minutes had not passed since he had purchased the drink, yet over three quarters of his extra large cup was now empty. He placed it in his cup holder, and pulled both his hooves apart from the velcro loops. Horace stood up and went to relieve himself during the third preview before the film. He walked out of the theater to an onslaught of light rays saturating his eyes, and raised his splotched forearm up to provide comfort. After readjusting appropriately, he looked around for a bathroom. There was a sign hanging from the ceiling that read,
Theaters 1-5 » Theaters 6-10 « Restrooms »
Horace followed the sign to a door with yellow tape sprawling across the door and a paper sign saying, THIS BATHROOM TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE In frustration, he hurled an expletive towards the door, albeit mutedly. Certain there were more bathrooms inside this movie theater, Horace ventured toward the main lobby looking for any place to relieve himself, as it was becoming increasingly more difficult to hold it in any longer. He finally found one near the entrance of the theater, in front the box office. Once inside, Horace headed straight for the stalls. He was not a fan of urinals due to the awkward fumbling involved as a consequence of his handicap. All the stall doors were closed, but Horace peered down and looked for the sight of shoes. Sure enough, there was a single stall that was not occupied. He opened and closed the door after entering, pushing the lock inwards, securing the door from opening. He then began to, well, relieve himself. There was not much else to it. When finished, Horace began to velcro back up. A glistening sparkle could be seen out of the corner of Horace’s eye, to which he glanced at the bathroom floor - there lied a quarter towards the rear of the toilet. Not being the most serious proponent of personal hygiene, Horace sought to claim it as his own (it was face up, after all). He reached downward and began to corral the quarter, sandwiching it between both hooves. With enough applied pressure from both sides, the quarter turned upright, and Horace carefully placed dropped it into his right breast pocket. While bent over and focused on the quarter, which in fact turned out to be a nickel, the movie ticket for the 7:30 (Post Meridiem, of course) showing of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 slipped out of his left breast pocket and into the toilet. Horace flushed the toilet, but noticed the misplaced movie tickets too late to act on it. Shucks, he thought to himself. Oh well, it won’t be that big of a deal, he continued before leaving (do not worry, for he did wash his hooves).
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Horace walked back towards Theater 12, straight past the box office and straight past the concession stand. He went straight into the hallway guarded by the podium man. Luckily for Horace, he was not presently at his station. With a newly endowed smile and the gait of childish fervor, Horace strutted into the hallway. “I’m sorry sir. I’m going to need to see your movie ticket.” The podium man had just returned and blocked Horace’s path. “Oh, uhh, I was just in Theater 12 and needed to pop out for a bit. Had to go to the bathroom,” Horace replied, continuing his forward motion. The podium man continued to block him. “I’m afraid I can’t let you go further without a movie ticket.” “But, but, I was just in there with my family. You tore our tickets and let us in.” “Theater policy is that we cannot let you in without a ticket.” “I definitely paid for my ticket. How do you not remember the guy with these?” Horace waved his hooves in front of podium man’s face. “Sir, do you have a ticket? I cannot help you if you don’t have one.” “I accidentally flushed mine down the toilet. Are you happy? Now can we please cut this nonsense and will you let me in?” Horace asked, slightly agitated. “You know our policy sir. I’m afraid I cannot.” “Can I speak to your manager? Maybe they’ll get it straightened out.” “I am the manager of this theater. I still can’t let you in without a ticket.” “Wait what? Why are you running the podium then?” “Laura’s rabbit is sick. Someone had to cover for her.” “Who’s Lau – you know what, it doesn’t matter. If you’re not going to let me in, then I’ll just go buy another ticket.” Horace angrily walked back out front to the box office where a uniform-clad teenage girl behind a window greeted him with an enthusiasm that was the antithesis to his current temperament. “Hi, what can I help you with?” “Yeah, uh, I’d like one ticket to Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, please. The 7:30 [Post Meridiem] showing.” He reached into his pocket and felt around for the velcro on his wallet, and gave it to the the jubilant employee. “Ooh, I’m sorry sir, but we’re all sold out of tickets for the 7:30 [Post Meridiem] showing. Would you like a ticket for the 8:30 [Post Meridiem] show? They’re going to sell out soon.” Horace had never been more irritated. He reached for his wallet and dejectedly dragged it back across the counter to his pocket. He walked towards a chair the theater had in the lobby and sat down on it, elbows on knees and both cheeks squished by hooves. The podium man was glancing at a distance, feeling remorse for his decision. But it was theater policy, and he took an oath to never break it. He simply had no choice. The podium man glanced away from Horace as a new wave of eager customers arrived to get their fix of moving pictures. He sat there for nearly twenty minutes, doing nothing. Was he going to see this movie with his family? Was he ever going to see this movie, at
all? Horace could not bear the thought of not seeing a Kevin James film he would instantly lose any credibility as a fan. Eventually, his wallowing led him into the game room, where he spent a significant amount of time and money on the claw machine, from which he won nothing since having hooves is a handicap in that particular game. As Horace pondered his demise and attempted to alleviate his pain, a group of teenagers walked in to the theater and ordered six tickets for a Rated G movie. Horace looked up. They all looked far too old to enjoy such nonsense, and far too cool to even entertain the thought. The teenagers must be sneaking in! All hope was not lost for Horace any longer. He casually stood behind the group, and when it was his turn he ordered one ticket for the most recent showing of any movie they had available. Horace put his left hoof in his pocket again and felt around for the velcro. The wallet got caught on his pocket when he tried pulling it out and the velcro detached. This happened three more times (again, not a perfect system), and all the while the cheery employee patiently waited for this fumbling goof to exchange commodities. Horace finally got his wallet out and handed it to the employee, who slid the wallet and the ticket back through the semicircle in the glass barrier. He put the wallet back with ease, but had to carefully slide the movie ticket across the counter with one hoof, while the other hoof lied underneath the edge of the counter, waiting for the ticket to fall. Horace tried to put on a sly demeanor once he gained possession of the ticket, but he could not help but plaster a large, goofy smile on his face, immediately diminishing the value of his façade. The podium man was clearly suspicious of Horace, who was proudly walking around with a movie ticket sandwiched between his two hooves. I can’t kick him out just yet, thought the podium man, I’ve got to wait until he actually does something. It’s theater policy. The podium man let Horace through, tearing his ticket with concealed pleasure. Horace walked in the direction of the theater corresponding to the one on his ticket, periodically glancing over his shoulder to keep track of the podium man, who was doing the same to Horace. Finally, the podium man was forced to turn around to face customers, so Horace made a break for it. Theater 12, here I come, he thought as he rapidly paced through the tacky carpet hallways. Oh no!, thought the podium man. He had turned around to see Horace making a run for Theater 12. “Hey! Stop! That’s not the correct theater!” The podium man began to run after him. Horace had not heard the podium man, and assumed his plan was a success. In reality, the podium man caught up with him rather quickly, when suddenly a steady stream of outward bound people blocked Horace’s entrance into Theater 12. The movie had ended. Horace had missed it. Before long, Brenda, Oliver, and Nancy walked out with Horace’s unfinished Dr. Pepper® in hand. “It wasn’t as good as the first one,” said Nancy.
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SEEKING UN - SOLITARY NON - CONFINEMENT
Yeshasvi Mahadev Do you catch a waft of silent desperation? Hanging in the air Over my failed baking experiments Do my punchlines sound rehearsed? From the hours I spend, facing a mirror Perfecting my deliveries Can you sense my uneasiness? When asked a personal question About a past riddled with broken relationships Do you recognise my fear? Of being found out For all my failings that may end us momentarily Am I delusional? To seek out a wholesome connection In a reality of conveniences and priorities Is it too late? To build foundations for lifelong friendships When decades have passed since most were laid Is there no promise? For the girl who refused to belong While simultaneously craving camaraderie Where lies the mythical abode? For the girl who ran away From all that she feared and loved the same.
SHADES OF ORANGE by Katie Raymond
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CAMPING, 2015 by Miriam Francisco I have forgotten how to forget about my mind and my roommate is snoring on purpose, probably, because at midnight I accidently turned the light on and flooded the room in a greasy yellow spill. There are four pillows on my bed, and a fifth tucked in the thin space between the cracked window and the wall, which is also cracked but on the inside, under the old blue paint where I canâ€™t see it. Somehow our room invites a primordial heat even when the rest of the house creaks cold. The chipped black radiator exhales every once in a while: a wet, metallic sigh, a tiny rainforest hiding inside its calcified intestines. When I get home at night Iâ€™ve started opening the window from the top, crinkling the poster I taped to the curtainless glass in October when the leaves on the tree in the front yard began to thin. Tonight I am trapped under two blankets with the flat sheet bunched up near my feet. Darknesses are as varied as the things they hide, but still I can barely tell the difference between my mind and my room: the two places I live.
FRESH SPICE by Katie Raymond
I feel a liquid breeze on my face: two summers ago, when we both woke up in the middle of the night and we crawled outside and lay on our backs on the tangy dirt, twin noses pointed up at the the wide trees rising high above us, the unknowable velvet sky. Pine needles tickle my back, a single blinking star overhead: the low-battery light from the smoke detector and stale crumbs from when I ate sweet brown crackers in bed on Saturday. I miss you with a swiftness that pushes my heart deeper into my chest. It was almost enough, your thousand tiny meals that kept me hungry: a slick gray basin, a plastic fork for the broken fender. Her fried fish on the ground, bullying the floor with their odor.
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PAINTED SKY CROW by Shonda Adams
FORGETTING FOR ALLEN GINSBERG by Sarah Stone I remember The trips across the arc of a jaw I remember Slipping between pen stained hands and neatly folded bed sheets smelling of lemons, reminding me of soldiers I remember Feeling inclines and declines, pretending they were ski slopes that froze fingers to puncture skin I remember Gliding over roofless churches, maddened minds plotting genocides, sleeping in street lamps and crying out in joy when they burned our eyes I remember Disappearing into memories of perfumed women in petticoats dragging us like floating spirits to run down ballrooms with skeletal chandeliers I remember Hopping across rooftops to spend desperate hours lying on stairs watching time move through rose buds I remember Marching down burning streets with groaning saxophones and holy skyscrapers, our chins lifting see oh Poseidon! Drench us! Flood us! We want to drown in your supernatural brilliance! Do you remember meeting birthmarks? I remember yours on the small of your wrist A beating heart dancing the rhythms of phantom jazz.
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I. by Alexander Mullen
I. Lord, hear my prayer. Lord, let my voice be heard as the roar of twenty candles the burning of twenty million questions I am but twenty digits with one thousand hands to hold Lord, please remove the hands from around my neck or are they my hands Lord, pardon my discontent but believe in my faith I have always been loyal I am a man who stops to smell the flowers but chooses to ignore the smell of smoke I would eat an orchid just to swallow a bee would swallow anything to feed the oven in my chest Lord, when will I fall over from exhaustion when will I become exhausted of exhaustion You can tell me if I already have keeping secrets puts wear on the ribs Lord, grant me sleep Lord, grant me rest Lord, is my faith a prison state do I live in one of Foucaultâ€™s beehives full of eyes is it possible to swallow yourself please show me how Lord, decrease my bewilderment I am strong in my devotion, Lord I believe in You as I believe in the fire burning within me I cannot put it out Lord, I have lost my rosary but I can feel it around my neck I wear You like a second skin, Lord, and Yours is a warm one Yours is a dry one Yours is an arid room and I am turning to cinders in Your hands or are they Mine? Lord, can you hear me?
UNTITLED by Aliya Falk
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SIN by Yiting Luo
SEALED EYES by Christian Weigelt Having finally reached this quiet meadow I relaxed and rested in the parched grass Turning to look back beyond the tall trees Which mark the origin of my endless path. With every branch I pushed out of my way, I felt the warnig visions of the forefathers, Held their heavy words in my puny palms, And suffered through their ancient woes. I wondered why their foreboding lines, Touched me with such dear concern, As words of great worth could not have Just left me shaking trees for ripe pears. Over and again I saw the vicious wars Appearing in all the visions of the fathers, But all around me, whoever I talked to, Nobody lay low their piercing words.
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FAULT by Yiting Luo
FLOATING IN TEMPESTS by Christian Weigelt
As the aged captain of my steadfast ship I have commanded the hearts of the crew through trips, cruises and abysmal battles. The white sailors of this fated vessel have toiled hard to sustain the drifting course. Though oft it happened, that the skies fell ill, that the navigator felt blind to lead, our small bridge absent of the deck officer, and the bosun suddenly hit by fear. I held my grip on my lifesavers. Never did I yield due to attritition, but most nights when my strong seafarers slept, I spent in alarm reading the frayed charts, to lead on my proud men with courage. My befuddled thoughts of progress may wake everyones doubts this sinister nightfall should they not drown by intoxication before the next dawn.
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THE TALE OF MOROZKO by Christine MacKenzie Based on a Russian folktale Against the falling snow the lies she told herself were hot on her skin, vanishing into smoky breath, “Of course I’m warm.” She sucked on her fingertips burnt by frost, bare knees trembling in the gusts of wind. “Beautiful, little one, how you spin these words to please me! How did you end up in the cold this fine evening?” Glowing dim blue in the sun, he looked more like a dream than a man. His beard fell in white locks that swung about as he leapt from branch to branch of a birch tree, the bark falling off in white and black peelings. And so she told him. As she roughly scraped the dirt caked on the rotting wood floor, splinters pushing further into her flesh, Nastenka looked up at her stepsister Marfa’s vile smirk--the final brushstroke on her reptilian face. Lips thin as a seam, eyes darting and narrow. “Stop looking at me,” Marfa smacked her on the head, as if in each beating she could steal away her beauty. Dirty snow dripped from her boots as she trudged over to the tea kettle. “Of course she wants to look at you,” her stepmother said, “You’re the most gorgeous young woman in all the villages, as far as the eye can see. Don’t you agree, Nastenka?” “Yes, mother.” Marfa rolled her eyes, “As if you
know what beauty is. I’ve seen rats with more charm than you, doorak.” “We can’t all be as pretty as you, Marfa. The blacksmith’s son will fall for you at first glance, I know it.” Nastenka bit her lip, holding back laughter. Marfa noticed, crying out to her mother. “Look what you’ve done, you nasty sooka! Get out of here!” Her stepmother grabbed Nastenka by the collar, throwing her out of the door. She clawed at the door, yelling, “Please! Don’t leave me out here, you can’t do this!” When she started to wail, her stepmother came at her with a black frying pan. Her limbs were numb, but she picked herself up and ran into the tangle of trees and darkness. For a moment she saw her skull bloodied and broken in the snow. Now the image morphed into a still corpse thawing at the emergence of spring. Wildfire. Fierce flames danced hot on her skin. I am warm, I am in a burning meadow, or in a fireplace. Remember that warmth and make it real. Her lips swelled blue and muscles paralyzed as she slid her back against a tree. Hearing her story, he swept Nastenka up into his arms. Red flushed back to her skin, nestled in the heaping fur coat he wore.
“Prove yourself to me, and you shall be rewarded.” His eyes sparkled, as dazzling as melting snow. “Or not.” He winked at her, disappearing into the white landscape. In her hands she suddenly felt the weight of a wooden spinning wheel, dull thread piling up at her feet. A voice spoke from the distance, “Tomorrow I will return to evaluate your work, young girl. Don’t disappoint me.” Her skin returned to frosty blue in the near silence of the darkening evening, the only sounds the howls of the wolves and the wind. All night she spun that thread into a linen shirt for Morozko, her fingertips bloodying and her body eventually succumbing to the calls of sleep. The forest floor melted hot around her and the spinning wheel, purple flowers the size of thumbs sprouting from lush patches of grass. Her hair grew in shiny waves, to the backs of her knees, and the scars that decorated her body dissolved into milky smoothness. She opened her eyes to Morozko, his hands carrying a large fur coat-dyed purple--and a chest filled with pristine jewels. “These are for you. No one deserves them more. Go back to your home.” That’s all he said, then he left. “Thief! Liar!” Marfa said, “You must be one of those. Why would anyone give you these things?” She snatched the coat from her hands, draping it over her shoulders. “Give it back!” Nastenka yelled. “It’s mine! Morozko gave it to me, not you!” “Morozko doesn’t exist, doorak, he’s nonsense. I thought you’d be smart enough to know nonsense from truth, but I obviously overestimated you.”
“He’s real, I’ll tell you!” “Let me see that, Nastenka,” her stepmother rifled with the jewels greedily, “Marfa, why don’t you see if you can get even more than this girl, won’t you? If she can get this much, you can only imagine how much he’d give to you.” “That is very true, mother.” At sunrise Nastenka heard a scream from the doorway. She leapt from her bed in her cotton nightgown, rushing to meet her stepmother weeping over a body. Entirely blanketed in ice, Marfa’s body had frozen solid. Even her hair was clad in minute snowflakes that crowned her face, the peaceful expression unable to mitigate the horror in her eyes. Wide open and bloodshot. She imagined all that Marfa would say to Morozko, Of course it’s fucking cold, you old man! Do you expect me to work all night like a slave? Just give me the gifts, I’m beautiful, don’t you see? And she could see her sister’s hands clawing at the door, just like hers, at the dead of night, in the midst of our slumber, crying out Let me in, Let me in, Let me in, as she curled up into a ball and froze on the doorstep. Dear Nastenka, she imagined Marfa saying, I beg you to let me in. I apologize for all I have done to you, I was wrong, just let me in. She wanted to have looked down at Marfa’s trembling body, her sister’s lips kissing her feet, but that horrified her. Yet the pity she felt horrified her as well. The air of virtue infected her mind with cold contempt, but she warmed herself with the lie that she never thought those thoughts.
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TIMELESS by Christian Weigelt
DARK WATERS by Christian Weigelt They said it would not rain, told me to go out to play. Passing the shrubs and empty plane, I made my way to the calm bay. Digging in the warm watery sand, I found coloured pebbles and a washed shell. I kept all, clasping them in my hand wishing, I would have spotted the snell. The sorry sky reflected the sapphire water, which glowed brightly, hissing with each wave, hiding the truth of the upcoming slaughter, suggesting its vile aim only with one phrase. It definitely did not rain that day, but my castles were all broken, and neither did I return from my stay, after the warning waves had risen.
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WINDOWS by Jacalyn Kai We all live on different insides of the same outside. It’s pretty interesting, isn’t it? That we, throughout time, have always built walls, constructed castles, fortresses, mansions, gates, fences, various prisons, with the goal of keeping “us” separate from “them.” Keeping those “out,” and ourselves “in.” In what? We already are “in.” And in it, in this, together. The only walls are the gravitational forces that keep us from floating past Earth’s atmosphere. Gravity is not subjective or exclusive. Neither is sunlight, or oxygen, or the warmth from a caring embrace, or the energy from a great storm. The sound waves of music do not circumnavigate certain ears from certain sections of tectonic plates. Laughter is not enjoyed less by children of one social class to those of another. The fear of the unknown and the capabilities of oneself on the brink of new experiences manifests no differently from ages 1 to 100. Each leaf and finger knows the burn of fire and has a system of veins to help it restore and repair. Every single creature exists to live. So why do we build walls? To protect us, to keep us safe, sheltered, untouchable, impermeable,nremoved, distant, content, unaware, ignorant...assured? We are assured nothing in life. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is to be taken for our own. We can’t really have anything in the end. The things we spend our precious time and money on will not be ours forever. Most things lose value as priorities and circumstances change and evolve. Things become obsolete. Ideas become forgotten. Relationships ignite and then die even quicker. The most amazing and life-changing encounter you could fathom might occur in 4 hours and then never be seen or felt again. The memory of it in all its intangibility will be the only surviving remnant, and that will be infinitely more powerful than anything else that gives meaning to your life or defines your identity. There is no spark in predictability—there is much to be learned, but nothing new to experience. So we need both. Consistency and change. Reliability and risk. Dependability and independence.
This balance is not two-sided, but rather, it is multidimensional. Nothing is black and white. There is no inherent right or wrong. Good and evil are not loyal to their own. Day and night are a continual motion and coexist in the same realm at the same time. Currently in Germany it is late at night, but it is simultaneously early morning for my friends in Japan, and mid- afternoon for my family in America. A simple concept, yes...but only on the surface. Think deeper. Think wider. Everything is happening, everywhere, at the same time. Here. Now. It never stops. I am a part of it. You are a part of it. We are. And they are. All of those pronouns apply to all. Their ownership resides in the perspective. But it is all the same. Take a large square pane of glass and place it upright in the middle of an expansive field. A rice field or maybe a rapeseed field. On each side of the glass you see through to the other. Paint a thin coating of silver behind one side. Now it is a mirror. Reflecting one side only, but giving the impression of continuity. The parallel gaze. But yet, it is still one-sided. You are happy; you see yourself, but know only a world based on your constricted view, only allowing yourself to see the picture with you in it—allowing the picture to only be of you. You have created a wall. Now, along comes a stone thrown from the side that you cannot see, from the side that does not exist to you. It breaks the glass. Before your eyes your reality cracks and shatters. You no longer see yourself looking back at you. Now you see beyond. You see “the other side.” But as you look, you realize all the other walls of glass have shattered around you as well, and there are no more sides to anything, but just one endless continuation. The soil beneath your feet holds the roots of all the land’s forests and fades into sand that covers the ocean’s floors. The wind that pricks your skin with this grit and swirls through your hair also pushes along the tumble weeds in the Arizona desert, rushes around the edges of Mt. Fuji, and rings between the bars of the Mackinaw Bridge. It carries the mist of the Santa Monica waves and sends papers flying from unlucky hands of city street stockbrokers. The boundless flow. What do you do, now that you can no longer “not see?” Now that your constructs have been shattered, your illusions have been dissolved? There is no choice. You must step into your new perspective. Instead of thinking that everything is here for you, to be in the background of your picture, you now have to understand that you are a part of The Everything That Is Here. Nothing is for anything.
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Nothing is entitled. From focal point to vantage point you change. And oh, how magnificent, how grand, how limitless, is this new view. Instead of only seeing your image, you now see your influence. More than that, you feel it. You can feel so much more now that your are open to all sides of experience. You know it is you that creates connection and gives meaning and shares knowledge. You that ignites emotion and inspires passion. You that holds that greatest power that everyone is fighting for behind their proud walls. That power of Love. To be given, to be received, to be held and cherished and dreamt of and longed for and in all ways, expressed. To be embodied. You are, we all are, Embodiments of Love. We are taught to externalize a patchwork of lies, delusions, and prejudices, and live within a boxed-in reality. Internally, this leaves us empty, and confused, and even afraid. So we develop further mechanisms for security and oblivion to keep us safe and give us a false-sense of wholeness. But this can’t last. And when stones get thrown our way, when plates shift, when the tiniest flame breathes enough oxygen to envelope and the glass finally breaks, then, all that remains are the shimmering particles that clear the air to a new sense of fulfilled awareness that sees its own eyes as the only windows to an ever-expanding universe. As a world we must not let the mindset continue that one day things will get better. That someone or something else is going to make it happen. That if we ignore the bad it will go away. Our problems are not going to be solved magically. We can’t keep hoping that one day good will come. It is already here, it has been. Why not now? The solutions are not out there. They are within. Not only is it possible for us to create change, to influence what’s next, to be a part of The Difference, it is exclusively up to us to do so. We must never let ourselves fall blind to the reality that WE ARE THE WORLD. We are the past, present, and future. Every being Every piece. All matter. We know too much now to make excuses or to think ourselves removed. Open borders, tear down walls, make education available and possible to all, be open to changing your beliefs or at least accepting and respecting others, help people who have less and never see them as less or wrong or at fault of a system they were born into. Change the system. Act. Do. It’s not enough to hope. Not anymore. Open the windows and look outside.
OCEAN MAGIC PENDANT by Shonda Adams
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MONSOON MUSINGS by Neha Dhawan Monsoon showers tumble down. While the peacocks dance and the singers sing, there is a widow in my neighborhood who ponders the bamboo forests that always whistled when the rain fell. She muses over the bright orchids that adorned wooden railing of her balcony in that vast valley of rhododendrons. She thinks of the silvery mist, black clouds, and the icy azure waters of the flowing river. And then she tries to halt her mind, brews a cup of milk tea, pours it into the porcelain cup. She sips it gently; now wistfully enslaved by the memories of her husband. Tiny drops of rain trickle down the glass pane to settle on the window sill.
SLEEPYHEAD by Yiting Luo
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ARTISTS & AUTHORS CLAIRE ABDO
Claire is a junior studying art and design. She focuses in graphic design and publication design but has always loved photography and likes to combine her photos with her design skills to create fully original works of art.
As a mosaic artist she finds inspiration from nature and the minutiae in everyday objects. She carefully selects tesserae and looks to incorporate unique “gems” into each mosaic to create an organic and fluid design. She is passionate about recycling and tries to incorporate at least one recycled item into each mosaic. She strives to create an interesting and dynamic piece of art while expressing her passion for the ocean, nature, and conservation.
Ben Biber is a first year student from Westland, Michigan. He enjoys writing, producing music, and pretending he knows more than he really does.
Kate is a junior majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Comparative Culture and Identity. She an avid coffee and bonfire enthusiast with an interest in the arts. Her photography has previously appeared in the As I See It competition as a finalist in 2015 and 2018, the HHAUS Tactility and Synesthesia exhibits in 2015, the 2016 Juried Art Competition, the Nature by Design exhibit in 2016-2017, the EnspiRED 2017 showcase, and the 2018 Bodies of Michigan exhibit. Her poetry has been published in The Blue Marble Review, LHSP's Dear Friends, Fortnight Literary Press, and Xylem Literary Magazine.
A senior studying psychology, Hannah loves creating art that discusses mental health issues. In her work, she draws inspiration from her own experiences with anxiety, which has been a part of her life since early childhood. She wants each and every person struggling with mental illness to know that they are not alone! In her spare time, Hannah likes watching kid’s Netflix shows with friends, coloring, and having staring contests with her one-eyed cat Lily. Hannah would like to dedicate her work to therapy, her family, and anyone who has ever bought her bubble tea.
Nayri (pronounced Nighty) Carman was born and raised in Germany before moving to the United States for elementary school. She is 100% Armenian and is majoring in Chemical Engineering and minoring in Math at the University of Michigan. Her favorite movie is Inglourious Basterds, she loves baking and reading, and her favorite music is your dad’s favorite music.
ALIX LILA CURNOW
OPHELIA RUYU DENG
Alix Lila Curnow is a freshman studying theatre. “It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.” -Albert Einstein Artist, painter, traveler. Ophelia is a current junior at the University of Michigan pursuing a BFA in Art and Design and a BA in International Studies. Born and raised in the Greater Boston Area, Ophelia has been oil painting for over ten years picking up a mixture of other mediums along the way. In her spare time, Ophelia enjoys playing cards, skiing, drinking tea and taking naps.
ALIYA MARIS FALK
Neha Dhawan is a poet, writer, and designer. She is a self proclaimed introvert who loves to be a couch potato and marathon through Anime and Korean dramas. She loves traveling and interacting with people from different backgrounds. Currently, she is a graduate student at the School of Information and is in love with the beauty of winters in Ann Arbor. Aliya Falk is a sophomore majoring in Organizational Studies and minoring in Art and Design. She is intrigued by life's unpredictability, and likes to explore her fascinations through writing, music, and photography.
Miriam Francisco is a sophomore studying English and American Culture. She is an Arts staff writer for The Michigan Daily, a This American Life groupie, and a tea enthusiast.
Natasha is a freshman studying environment who also loves drawing people. This is her first year with Blueprint Magazine and she's having a great time!
Willa Hart is a first-year student undecided about her major, her life path, and just about everything in life. She's an Executive Officer in Blood Drives United, and likes
Jenny Hong is a junior studying English with a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys reading and writing poetry. This is her second year with Blueprint Literary Magazine and she loves the fun and creative energy we have here!
Isabelle is currently a junior at Ross who enjoys doing photography in her spare time.
HUMZA ALI KHAN
Humza Khan is a senior in LS&A studying physics and math that has definitely never actually grown cow arms. Nope, thatâ€™s a fictional story based on made up events. Also, he enjoys watching T.V. and writing quite a bit.
Jay is a 2nd year PhD student in Kinesiology and Mechanical Engineering. He enjoys film, video editing, and playing music as part of his other creative ventures. Drawing is a relatively new hobby of his, so his style is still growing and changing quite a bit. He hasn't yet resorted to using a ruler, so his drawings are all freehand.
Sonia Lee is a sophomore studying Business who sometimes attempts photography. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, eating delicious food, and finding cool places that she can't afford to travel to. This is her second year on the staff of Blueprint, and she is excited to see the publication reach more and more people on campus.
Yiting Luo is a senior student majoring in Computer Engineering. However, visual art is always attractive to her. She loves to express myself with different media, like ballpoint pen, pencil, water color and digital drawing. The details of the real world and her imaginary world fascinates her and she records them with the tools she has.
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CHRISTINE ANGELICA MACKENZIE
SUSAN MARGARET MONTGOMERY
Christine A. MacKenzie is currently a student of creative writing and psychology at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She is a regular writer for Mentality Magazine and The Odyssey, as well as a Crisis Counselor, anatomical dissector research assistant, and volunteer creative writing instructor. She has been published in Visitant (March 2018), Eunoia (March 2018), The Underground (April 2018), Teen Ink Print (November 2017), and Blueprint (April 2018). Yeshasvi graduated in 2016 from the ISD program, with an M.E in Energy Systems. Microprose is her forte: a form of writing that restricts word counts to as little as 13 words. You may find some of her work at <www.thepurplefenix.com>. She currently lives in California, pursuing a career in clean energy, whiling away time before she can become a full-time storyteller. Some of her favourite things are walking on crunchy leaves, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fluffy puppies, boba tea, murder mysteries and conversing with captivating humans. Susan Montgomery is the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Undergraduate Program Advisor in Chemical Engineering. In her other life she is a photographer, focusing on stock, travel, and event photography. Visit SusanMontgomeryPhotos.com to learn more about her photography. Nisha Patel is a senior studying Neuroscience and Computer Science who has a passion for health, technology, data, and art. Her art style is spiritually comforting for her given the geometric abstraction, layering, and symmetry techniques that she uses. She hopes to continue developing her passion for art in the years to come! To check out more of her work, follow her on Instagram: @arts.patenish. Outside of her interests, she loves to spend time with her friends and family, read books, and watch tennis.
Katherine Qiao is a junior at the Ross School of Business, majoring in Business Administration and double-minoring in Writing and Applied Statistics. Her hobbies include listening to music of foreign languages, art, writing, and publication of many mediums. Her particular favorite art medium is ink, and you can find her website at katherineqiao.com. She is passionate about design, tech, and the intersection of quantitative and creative. She’s ambidextrous, which you’d think is always a great thing, but it actually means she’s only good at symmetrical sports and liable to fail all psychology coordination tests.
She is a redhead, lover of light, photo and video making, visual storytelling gal. Raised on fresh water in northern Michigan, currently 23 years young, with eyes constantly spanning her surroundings.
Romy is a full-time sophomore at the Ross School of Business and part-time macaron enthusiast, who uses modern-style poetry as her creative outlet on campus.
Lukas Taylor is from Fayetteville, Arkansas. He writes about being scared of things.
JACALYN KAI WEBSTER
She recently transferred to UofM after traveling throughout Europe, Japan, and North America teaching children music. Her favorite things include climbing trees, collecting ornately designed rice bowls, making pancakes, participating in vegan activism, reading about the multiverse, and painting walls. Christian is a poet at heart who uses his cosmopolitan background to challenge human concepts and play with the perception of reality in his works. By personifying nature and allowing it to influence events, he establishes symbolism and thereby the meaning of his poems. With connotative language the poet pushes the readers to feel his realm, Behind The Niagara Fall subtly making them question the scenario to expose the message not conveyed. Kaiwen Sun "Poems aren't there to make sense. Sense is a personal thing."
Photography KAITLYN WELLS
Kaitlyn Wells is a junior studying Industrial & Operations Engineering. She has a Medium blog called "Science Meets Poetry" where she writes poetry about statistics and computer science concepts. She is also a blockchain/cryptocurrency enthusiast.
Davanna is a Computer Science Engineering major with a minor in Creative Writing from Armada, Michigan. Her preferred form of expression is creative prose, and she is an avid lover of science fiction and fantasy. Davanna also harbors a myriad of interests besides writingâ€”she enjoys space, animals of all kinds, traveling, and singing. This is her second year on the staff of Blueprint Literary Magazine.
Paige is a designer that works with her hands. With a fine arts background and a love for many mediums, she is passionate about the process of making rather than one realm of the art world. She has been involved in the Blueprint family for the past three years and is excited for her last year with this creative group.
BLUEPRINT LITERARY MAGAZINE
ISSUE 7 - 2018
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN