The Things We Wish We Said Issue
Volume 18, Issue 4, March 2019
You do not need anyone’s permission to live a creative life”
VOLUME 18 ISSUE 4 MARCH 2019
ELIZABETH GILBERT (1969-)
A Passing Conversation
A Futile Letter to the Humans to Preceded Me
New Years’ Thoughts
The Man Behind a Mask
One Last Time
blue kool-aid sand
All Roads Lead Here
Diamond Rings and Unsaid
Life After Dark
From the Side of a Grave: a Eulogy for When You’re Gone
MANREET LACHHAR MANREET LACHHAR
A Little Too Late
Words for My Daughter
I didn’t know,
Love Brought You Here
Our Silence Speaks Loud
MAX POND ADRIENNE SWEET
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Sophia Grande-Lawlor email@example.com
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Interns Desiree Streef, Kelly Xu, Preye Aduwari, Jussnandan Sidhu
Emily Buccioni, Camille Dehghan, Manreet Lachhar, John McMorran, Kourtney Reich, Stephanie Silva, Adina Turkonje, Domenique Barbaro, Desiree Streef, Madeline McInnis, Andre Bourgeois, Thya Dragon, Aaron Hagey
Maria Sayde, Nicole Villemaire, Paige Silver, Thiranga Wijedasa, Max Pond, D.O. Taylor, Adrienne Sweet, Daniella Okezie, Ethan Green, Zeynab Abdi
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COLOPHON Blueprint is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community.
The Things We Wish We Said Issue I’m getting better at saying hard things. A lot of people tell me I’m quiet when they first meet me. Some people think I am shy in general, but friends have told me I have gotten a lot better at speaking my mind over the years. I spent a lot of time worrying about things when I was younger, and when I look back now I realize I always wish I had said something. I was never one to rock the boat, but as I grow I realize saying something is often the first step in making dreams come true, whether that be through saying yes to something we have aways wanted, saying no to things that bring us down, or just speaking our minds and finding someone who really gets it. As writers and artists, I think our work always revolves a little bit around things we wish we said. Every time I read a piece of writing or look at a piece of art, I wonder what its creator is trying to tell me. I think that’s always been my favourite part of Blueprint. All I really know for sure is, art is important when it comes to saying things you wish you said. There is something critical in taking a second in a world full of facts, good and bad, coming at you every second of the day to look at something that inspires you; that makes you wonder what beautiful or tragic things people thought about. That connects to you. That makes you close this magazine for a second and say, I wish I had said that. Or drawn it, or photographed it, or designed it. When I came up with this theme, I knew it would be the perfect way to end the year. I credit Blueprint for making me sit down and think about what I want to say in so many of my pieces, and I’m happy I finally did say what I wanted to. I’m grateful for what Blueprint does for our readers and our team every single day. I am always surprised when I see submissions pour in, and I am grateful for creators sharing work with us, always. It has been a privilege. I am so grateful. I know I have left nothing unsaid in my tenure here. Sophia Grande-Lawlor Editor-in-Chief
Paranoiac Desires by ZHIJUN
Belief. Dream. Sacrifice. Failure. As we get older and move out of the protection that we had as a child, we start to realize that not everything is within control, not every dream can be achieved, nor every effort rewarded. In this great big world, even if we sacrifice everything to build a pair of wings, it doesn’t mean that we will be able to fly. In the pursuit of our dreams: there are things we wish we had accomplished, and things we wished we had said- but would they have made a difference? Maybe we should just focus on the journey instead. Find some of my other words on Instagram: @achxu.
Founded in 2002, Blueprint is an editorially independent magazine published by Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications, Waterloo, a corporation without share capital. WLUSP is governed by its board of directors. Content appearing in Blueprint bears the copyright expressly of their creator(s) and may not be used without written consent. Blueprint reserves the right to re-publish submissions in print or online. Opinions in Blueprint are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Blueprint’s management, Blueprint, WLUSP, or WLU. Blueprint is created using Macintosh computers running Adobe Creative Suite.
New Year’s Thoughts NICOLE VILLEMAIRE
I was a fool to think I was anything other than convenient Soothe me into being compliant And I will do it with no complaint to you But I might take my frustration out on myself The way that old times begged Because you have your vices, but I have mine too. I was blind to think you care about me As each kiss is another rusty shackle And they are keeping me bound to you But they are rubbing my wrists raw. The red matches the hickeys you left on my neck That I asked for when I wanted to feel pain. You were hesitant then and I wonder what changed. Did something in your head knock loose Because I’m not sure if I recognize the boy standing before me. ‘Boy’ and not ‘man’ like age would suggest Because your actions indicate someone with a mind that isn’t fully developed. Why else would you see me with my wounds pouring love for you And decide salt would serve me better than bandages?
ONE LAST TIME MARIA SAYDE
kiss me and we will start over oh how i long for you for your pain once again just so i may feel one last time the way the fire in your eyes burns right down to the butterflies in my stomach the way your soft lips and sharp tongue trace caress across every inch of my flesh how is it so that such catastrophic love can put me back together again build back my pieces before we shatter again kiss me one last time before our forever ends forever
Who ever said silence stretches? Silence compresses, until my chest heaves claustrophobic, your breathing beside me shallow and slow. You know this game, four in the morning and filled to the brim with words we cannot speak. If you pretend to be dreaming you won’t have to say go back to sleep. I love you baby. Because you know I’ll say (like I have a million times before) you shouldn’t love me. I’m a monster. I’ll devour you. So you listen to me suffocate in the silence because both of us know what neither will say. I get out of bed. Where are you going? Come back. The notches of my spine click as I hunch up on the cold tiles of the kitchen floor curled in on myself, pressed smaller and smaller until I disappear. Can you come sit with me until I can breathe again? Bedsprings, body weight shifting, heavy hand on my hand to stop me from scratching myself open. I’m here, if you need me. I need you I need you I need you I need you I’m sorry it’s four a.m. and I can’t stop shaking I’m sorry I flinched when you put your arm around me I’m sorry I’ll never say any of this out loud. We’ll go back to bed, when you’re ready. Tomorrow we’ll watch the sunrise. Tomorrow we’ll watch the boats in the harbour tomorrow we’ll clutch onto one another too tight, afraid of letting slip the things we never say.
Diamond Rings and Unsaid DOMENIQUE BARBARO
A handsome man is crying In a coffee shop today The woman sitting with him Seems a thousand miles away He looks at her with pleading eyes She shakes her head, looks down He reaches for her distant hand She pulls away and frowns Her finger is pre-occupied Four in and on the left A glistening reminder of The promise that she kept The man begins to move his lips Spill memories they shared And how they’re meant to be and how He’s always truly cared She whispers to him gently “Sometimes love just isn’t fate, By the time you knew you loved me It was already too late”
He stares at the ground so blankly His eyes well up once more Before he speaks another word She’s headed for the door His head sinks down and trembles She is shaky at the knees He rips apart a napkin As she fumbles for her keys She glances back, he lifts his head Eyes lock before they part I wonder if her fiancé knows He will always have her heart
OXEL BRODY TR
Best Friend PAIGE SILVER
Two weeks. I was to come visit you. When I left home I broke your heart, But I never knew how deep until that morning when I was told yours had stopped. My visit came sooner, The context changed I longed for nothing more than to hear you say you love me once more, Go fishing once more, Have you read to me once more. I didn’t realize ‘til it was too late, But, Papa, you will always be my best friend.
He makes me quieter Reducing me to white noise In the background Am I worth this? Worth this pain Worth these never-ending tears That cascade down my face Like a rainstorm in Africa during the rainy season Silent thunder and lightning storms racking me back and forth These silences never end The melancholy seems to be attached to my persona Your words….cut deep Your Moods cause pain Tell me now Are you worth this STEPHANIE SILVA
A little too late DESIREE STREEF
I sat in your chair knowing you will never sit there again I stared at the stairs knowing you’d never walk down them again I waited and waited. I screamed your name begging you to come back To see you one last time But, I knew I never would Because you’re gone I wish I was there when you left this world I wish I had told you One last time I love you dad But as always, I was a little too late I knew you weren’t long in this world That life works in mysterious ways But I have unspoken words to you and now I say them But there is no one to reply Because I speak to an empty room With a broken heart That will never be repaired With permanent stains on my cheek from tears I shed As I watched your life be drained from your rosy cheeks And I couldn’t say goodbye…. I didn’t know how to And when I figured it out I was a little too late
A Passing Conversation One Dancer JOHN MCMORRAN
Heatwaves shivered in the wake of the thunderous gunshot, and an antelope leapt from some dry brush, cutting a streak of motion across the calcified flats. One gunfighter groaned and fell, and his pistol preceded him to the dust by a fraction of a second. The other gunfighter crossed the distance separating them, kicked away the wounded man’s pistol, then squatted down on his haunches. “Is it bad?” the wounded man asked. “I got you good. I’d say you got about a minute, maybe more depending how stubborn you feel.” “If I’m being honest that bullet took the starch out of me.” The shooter lit a cigarette and offered it to his dying opponent. The man inhaled gratefully, then watched one of his few remaining breaths dissipate in a cloud of smoke. “Any last words?” The wounded man nodded then shook his head. “I really don’t know. Seems like a lot that I’m leaving undone. I dunno who to apologize to, or who to ask forgiveness of.” Both men looked at the wounded man’s shirt for indication of death’s advance and the scarlet blossom did not recommend they tarry.
“Turn me out thataway, I can’t die looking at the back of a saloon.” “But it woulda been fine if I was the one to die back here?” The shooter said this as gouts of smoke grunted from the corner of his mouth, his half-smoked cigarette precariously bobbing with each syllable, labouring to turn the wounded man away from the site of their altercation, toward the fathomless horizon stretched the width of the world. “Ohh, it’s really coming on now, I feel very far South of comfortable,” said the wounded. The shooter chuckled, then stopped out of respect for the soon-to-be-recently deceased. “Those your last words?” “That gunshot of yours that plumbed my insides, it’s me. All that I’ve done, my whole life is just a moment. You can’t go back and find that gunshot in history, it’s gone. A memory. And when you and me are gone and there’s no one left to remember it, it might as well have never been.” “You sure are pessimistic.” “Under the circumstances I think I’m allowed.” “You don’t believe in heaven?” “I just think life is short and once it’s done—” He grunted in pain and wheezed and the shooter drew closer. “It hurts pretty bad right now but to be honest if you let me I’d stay here coming up with last words forever. It’s scary dying.” “It’s ok to be scared. Just can’t let it affect your living I suppose.” “I don’t think I did. But to be honest I wasn’t planning on this at all, and these are heavy thoughts to have all in a rush.” “I hadn’t planned to be in your position either and it could’ve just as easy been me.” “That doesn’t make me feel better but I do think it says something. But I’m about two or three pints short right now, so I’m not quite sure what.” “Here.” The shooter offered his nub of cigarette but the wounded man declined with a wince. “No. I want my last breaths to be prairie air. Reminds me of growing up.” The wounded man was not long in passing, and after relieving him of his valuables, the shooter had the courtesy to bury him and set rocks on his grave to deter scavenging animals. The shooter did not know what to say as he stood over his dead opponent, so he picked up where the thread of their unusual conversation had terminated. “I’ve been thinking about it since your passing and I don’t think anyone does a good job planning for death. I think that’s a gift right up until it’s a curse, but maybe there’s a way to do both. But to be honest I really don’t know.” By this time the sun had set, and a coyote lanced the quiet with a yip then a howl, while the shooter walked away from the Cimmerian gravesite, invisible but for the ember of his cigarette floating in the darkness.
13 ZHIJUN XU
to wander along old avenues, pathways and trails which we walked lost in memory, a meandering dream to swim, to float down rivers of recollection that wayward and twisting stream travelling so far from here so long ago drifting through forests, valleys, years how long shall i linger smelling flowers on the shoreline tasting what fruits hang low on bent branches the sweet, the sour tangy and tart savouring the flavours the intensity those past days still hold joy turns to
sorrow turns to joy
remorse swirls with ecstasy mingling and merging
as once we did
though how the light of that bliss, once brilliant, once burning is obscured and obstructed by a canopy of leaves and lives casting shadows, colouring and catching the radiance and warmth, reminding that this flavour is but an aftertaste that nostalgia is merely remembrance that then can never be now but timeless tides revive you crashing in â€“ rolling back what joy what longing what joy distance washes away bitterness dissolving, eroding the pain
and oh how blessed i feel, since that reality has become a mirage as now builds its faĂ§ade over then my past gradually gentrified, dreamt into perfection an illusion of us an ideal of you without blemish fault or blame and the waves keep rolling on as i walk by our old apartment and i canâ€™t quite recall why i left
oh the joy oh the longing oh the joy
ASTEPHANIE Futile Letter to the Humans Who Preceded LARA KATIEMe THOMAS SILVA I would like to start off with a word of warning: you are about to read an English major’s ignorant attempts to discuss the economy. I would normally never dare enter into a topic so outside of my capabilities, but even I feel angry enough to add my voice to the millennial mix. Take comfort in the fact that any venomous words you read are padded with the “soft skills” I’m gaining through my education. In true English-major fashion, I’m going to express my anger using a metaphor, and as this is economics we’re talking about, I will of course be using the metaphor of a ladder. Unoriginal, I know. But this monotonous metaphor has been drilled into my mind hard enough that I worry the ladder will smush my frontal lobe like an overripe blueberry, so bear with me. Now, as you know, this economics-centered world that you built is a ladder. We are all pushed onto this ladder by our well-meaning parents earlier and earlier each generation. At the top is a luxurious promise land where people float on silk-sheet clouds that sparkle with diamond dust. I see why you found this place so alluring. In fact, let me be the first to admit that I’ve grown obsessed with climbing the socioeconomic ladder. There’s no hiding it. People tell me I need to “loosen up” sometimes, but how can I when my muscles are so damn taut from climbing and climbing day after day, year after year. The day I chose to be an English major I condemned myself to the constant feeling that I have to climb twice as fast as others to compensate for this impractical major that I can’t even resent because it makes my journey bearable. You might be wondering why someone like me would suddenly start questioning the ladder that I have dedicated my existence to for almost a decade. The answer is academic exchange. I recently had the opportunity to step off the ladder and hang suspended on a blessed rope where the attainment of “international experience” promised to boost me up a couple rungs higher after my little break had ended. I cannot tell you how good it felt to be weightless. If you weren’t dead and gone I would tell you to give it a try. Now that I’m back on the ladder, I don’t foresee any future opportunities for me to step off again— until retirement that is, when I’m too old and tired to really enjoy my freedom on the platform I’ll be slowly building and dragging along behind me as I climb. Everyone knows that there is one kind of seductive, green-paper rope that can pull people right to the top. Those who aren’t gifted with one of these ropes on Baby’s First are enraged with the understanding that you can only find these lifelines at the top of the ladder. These leafy green ropes grow on trees up there, and the already weightless-wealthy only use them as accessories. Even these lucky, rope-rich few aren’t satisfied. They are so used to being weightless that they forget to enjoy the feeling. And besides, the old moniker is true: it’s lonely at the top.
I bet that even you are wondering: if the journey is so damn exhausting and the end goal a disappointment, then why not just stop climbing? I’ve asked myself this a couple of times. But here’s the thing. If you stop climbing you can’t just stay where you are. Eventually you’ll run out of supplies and energy and plummet down to the bottommost rungs, and don’t you know that they’re hell on earth? Those molten hot sticks of godforsaken metal will brand you with the eternal seal of shame and utter soul crushing despair. Or so we’re told. No, the only choice is to keep climbing. Every person on every tier seems pretty unhappy, don’t they? This unhappiness might stem from our knowledge that we built the ladder. Yes, yes, I’m throwing you a bone early capitalists—I don’t just blame you for this mess. Each new generation, including my own, continues adding to the ladder, making the journey that much more impossible for ourselves and our children and our children’s children. In the face of this hopelessness even I’m left asking myself what good can possibly come of writing this letter. I know that my words can’t take back that wonderful-terrible day when Smith forged together those first two rungs. I’m afraid that this ladder might be forged in steel. I’m afraid that we can only dismantle it if every individual puts their collective strength together and bends the ladder into a bridge to an in-between place where we can all live together above the hellish pits of poverty and below the silk and diamond dust clouds of the top. The means of getting there seem as impossible as the existence of this utopian place. Can you bend steel? I wouldn’t know—I’m just an English major.
Feel free to disregard this letter. I know that my metaphors are just silly little distractions against the advancements of those practical professionals finding increasingly efficient ways to digitize our ascent and dictate the new economic heights our unhappily high ladder will take. Until the impossible day when the entirety of humanity comes together to grab a metal rod and twist I’ll have to keep searching for ways to make climbing the ladder a little more bearable. Maybe I’ll try meditation.
Words for my daughter
The world is filled with monsters. They do not lurk in closets and under beds. These are a far scarier kind, that will call you friend, and ply you with sweet words. The shadows in the dark are easy to chase away. The monsters who walk in the light, with smiles and winks, hiding the sinister truth, those are the monsters to fear.
How can I protect you, my sweet baby girl? From those who think they are owed a smile a kiss a picture
I will arm you, my little warrior, with a fierce mind to fight, and inner pride to shield. I will build the walls of self worth high and strong around you. You will know you are your own person woman being Your value to this world is beyond measure, it will not be pitted against any other point.
Your heart is your own. Your body is your own. Your voice is your own.
These are the lessons I will teach you, my darling.
I didnâ€™t know,
That at the sight of you My heart would beat the way it does And at your voice, Sweeter than honey My spirit would awaken the way it does And in your absence A song of sorrow My soul would sing as it does But these things I keep guarded In spaces shared Heavy with longing unaware Enclosed by voices unheard With silence thicker than air Weighted with words unsaid.
Bedtime Stories MANREET LACHHAR
“Bhabaji,” you never ask your grandfather, “can you tell me a bedtime story?” You were too young to know you’d regret this when you were older. You wonder what he would’ve told you, because you grow up to gather interesting facts of his life like they’re puzzle pieces you can never fit together. He was born on the verge of the Great Depression, technically, but you don’t know if it touched his family so far away. He was only a teenager during the Second World War, but you’re almost positive he never went to fight out there. No, he had battles to fight right where he was. You know he had to metaphorically walk through fire to endure the IndiaPakistan Partition but he never said a word of it to you. All you remember of him is running around your house while he watched you. Him praying in his room while you watched TV downstairs without changing out of your uniform. You remember him being calm, collected, quiet. He swung you around on his legs and you laughed and you still remember the first line of the song he sang when he did it, though you grow to forget what it means in English. He never told you a bedtime story, and you’ll only ever wonder what he could’ve said.
All Roads Lead Here MANREET LACHHAR
Sometimes, I think about how you and I keep finding ourselves in the same places. March is still winter, technically, but it’s always been spring to me. It’s when we rotate around all the booths of our favourite restaurants and order the same things over and over again, like it’s a form of coming home. I remember that first time all that time ago, mistaking you for quiet, but it turned out all I had to do was dig a little for that dirt wall to come loose and collapse. You’re always unafraid to call me out on my routine mistakes and every time it shocks me in a way I never have the words to tell you just how much I appreciate. Every summer is dark, with bright spots slipping through. Some days, we stay out later than we’re supposed to but those are the days I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. You’re always open in a way that’s sudden but exciting, because it reminds me on the days when I wonder if emotions and honesty can coincide that the answer is yes. Once, we shared laughter over desserts and it struck me just how much I always miss you this time of year. And oh, how I love each autumn for all its potential promises of once again. Promises of once again sitting on our bedroom floors, holding on to each other’s hands as we whisper secrets that feel dark and obscene to the outside world. Promises of once again receiving messages where you surprise me with that sneaking wit that hides behind all your formalities. We’ll gossip of home and remember that long-ago-time when all we had was each other, and I’m glad that even when that’s changed, you stayed through it all. The sun sneaks out on winter mornings, icy and bleak in all its brightness. Even if I have my preferences, I know all the different routes that lead to your door and I’d walk them all in the dark if I had to. I still have the notes you left me, folded like expertly-pleated napkins, and I carry them with me as reminders of the ways I didn’t expect you to pay attention and you did anyway. I watch as you come to me in the midst of a sudden breakdown and then watch as you piece yourself just as fast, and I’ll tell that magical story over and over and over again. Yet again, in those same booths in those same restaurants, March swings around while you’re in the midst of falling out of love. And in the glow of all its liminal glory, I’m thrilled because it seems, in the end, we can’t escape the fact that all the roads we take lead us back to each other.
23 ADINA TURKONJE
Love Brought You Here ADINA TURKONJE
always stuck between the same memories the ones that toss, and lurch and oscillate they move through, all at once for attention but they never go away, they can’t ever fade they can’t drop dead, they can’t be replaced. it’s both the good and the bad, sometimes you can’t tell which is which because they’ll hurt the same way or more sometimes less and less, it really depends. the brain, the heart, the limbs a longing feel for the old self the dead self, the dead memories but if love brought you here then it must be the only thing that you seem to trust
hand in the sparkling salt water the feeling of your fingers grazing the grass the feeling of the sun casting down on you life itself comes alive when you touch the earth memories stain the planet so if you cry tonight so do the rippling waters, the seeds below the dirt, the bright blue sky that meets the clouds the planet watches us on old videotapes like a parent who misses their child replayed with the sound turned down low replaying, replaying, replaying tonight you’re vulnerable underneath the big red moon the empty sky, all eyes on you
Our Silence Speaks Loud KOURTNEY REICH
No, I wouldnâ€™t say that I fell in love with him that night, But damn, the feeling must have been close. Because falling asleep next to someone is the purest form of trust, And in that quiet moment he said things to me without words. And the realization of the silence scared me to death. Because it held the possibility of love, And with that comes the chance of heartbreak. And for once I found myself on the edge of both.
I wrote a poem about you. It’s about the smell of September, fresh and crisp, it’s about a heavy fog that never lifts. I wrote a poem about you, but it’s like I’ve forgotten how to spell your name now that I don’t see it signed on my birthday cards. It doesn’t say your name. Instead, it starts off soft and slow and then rises like a war cry like screaming why like the red-eye flight we took without you the empty seat at the table closed casket swollen ankles a laugh
I’ll never hear again.
I wrote a poem about you. It’s about a lot of things, but mostly, it’s about a love so real I’ll feel it in my bones when all I can feel is skeleton.
The man behind a mask THYA DRAGON
You drew me in with pretty words At an age where I thought I knew it all I was just another one for your records And yet there I was, at the beginning of my fall The lies you spun had me entangled Spurred me to be someone you could love All sense of self dismantled A shell of a person stuck on this alcove. You took advantage of me at my worst You left me open and raw In your eyes, only you could be first Always the one a step ahead of the law. It took a lot of time, to be able to walk away Only in the face of certain death Did my voice grow so I could say That I was broken, and tired of you getting your way. Since then, I have grown To be someone that is accepted Been no longer tossed around and thrown By a child of a man who made me feel rejected.
I have built myself up with the help of others And worked to be the best of mothers To nurture and love those who deserve it No longer bending over backwards to make myself fit.
Dating D.O. TAYLOR
Something to pass the time and maybe help to forget you, even if only for a few short hours. meeting new people laughing out of obligation conversations about nothing. drinks. necessary. guilt. digestion. Forcing myself into a kiss thatâ€™s not your lips walking away feeling violated sobbing amongst the trees my eyes hidden by dark covered glasses. Will this constant torture ever end? Will this pain stop haunting my every thought of moving towards a future that does not include you?
Life After Dark ETHAN GREEN Understanding where to begin is like letting frustration peck at your skull, wasting
minute after minute of life’s bliss. Letting the beauty of the fresh smell of grass on a calm summer day slip into the shadows. The smell of grass is the plant giving a warning sign of danger. It’s in pain and it’s doing the only thing it can. Continue living. See, knowing where to begin is like the grass. It never goes anywhere. It just keeps getting cut down to where it started before. It’s an endless cycle of torture that you can’t escape no matter what. It’s like depression. Thinking no matter what happens you will crumble back down to your lowest. The pressure in your chest building the claustrophobia that strangles your throat as you try to get up. But you can’t. You can’t. It is knowing that beauty is the greatest thing given to us. To some people, the gloomiest days are the sunny days. The sunny days are refreshing. Laying under a giant tree in its eminent solidarity. Its age only to be known by its death. After life, there is death. Everything has a stopping point but it’s what starts the cycle. To end creates a new beginning. Flowers bloom showing off their boastful colours and creating a spectacle only for weeks. Then they wither. They crumble and fall apart. Void. The void of colour. Black. Nothing. You can’t go inside a black hole. A black hole is a dying star. The Orion nebula is a dying star and it’s the most beautiful thing in the universe. Death can create beauty, and beauty is the beginning. Start with something beautiful. Build the beauty inside your chest suffocating your darkness. Clear your head of the void. The wormhole. What is a wormhole? Where does it go? Where does it end? Where does it start?
blue kool-aid sand. ZEYNAB ABDI
I tried not to think of you as a carcass when my fingers drummed against your ribcage that dared to be hollow. It was difficult not to peel away the dead skin that engulfed you. If I clawed far enough I would be met with a silk cavity inside your heart. You slept on my lap, head balded in a halo after I had found you madly plucking OYEWOLE BUKUMIstrands of your hair as if pain triumphed the slowness of dying. Your gaunt fingers laid under the blue stained sand mimicking a burial. You had asked to be cremated. I can still feel your hands trembling when you failed to pick up the kool-aid bottle forced to watch it spill staining the sand blue. You had lost the ability to cry last week. I did not flinch when I found my thighs wet. It is easier to speak to a dead man than a dying one when you are a coward. I owe you an apology. I didnâ€™t know what to say and neither do I know now. You know words were never my forte. I wish I took you urn shopping and as we would stroll through the aisles we would bicker about whose turn it was to cook dinner.
Liminal Space MADELINE MCINNIS
The graveyard, pitch black. Ominous and mysterious. A space of both life and death. Sometime, I will join. Until the fateful day, I wait. The ocean, rolling and tumbling. Calm but mighty. So much left unexplored. Water giving life, but here so dangerous. Until the storm passes, I wait. The station, busy with bodies. Rushing by and rushing through. They’re all on a journey. Another delay, the distance still far. Until the train is mine, I wait. The present, nothing certain. Fearing future, longing past. Any direction I make or take. Visions of wants, but focus on needs. Until I’m free, I wait. After all, knowing the end doesn’t make the wait easier. The liminal space of neither here nor there is where the dreamer goes to die.
From the Side of a Grave: a Eulogy for When You’re Gone AARON HAGEY
You’re gone, but you were never really here to begin with. And those sporadic moments when you were, you inflicted pain, fear, and suffering. No one really knew my father. Not his ex-wife. Not his siblings. Not his daughter. And not me. He presented himself as he wanted to be seen, hidden behind a smarmy smile and a false sense of superiority. He always yearned to be looked at as more than he really was. An egotistical, Narcissistic, Coward. His children were his audience, his fans, and the objects that he manipulated and deceived. The pain I feel about his loss has nothing to do with the DNA we shared or the title of “father” he wore as a talking point to boast about himself. My regret and sadness have everything to do with the monster he was and nothing with the figure the few who knew him believed him to be. He conditioned his children to admire him unquestionably and dote on him faithfully. Yet, he abused the only people truly connected to him. He tore away my confidence, kicked me down when I didn’t think I had any lower to go, and placed an ever-present sense of doubt and self-hatred into the core of who I am. He pulled me in during our infrequent visits to make me like and respect him, only to break me down as easily as he had built me back up. I could be his best bud one day, a failure the next. We could bond over an imparted interest, and he could direct a series of passive-aggressive insults toward me in the same breath. My father’s greatest strength was manipulating those who had fallen into his web, like a spider drawing in a helpless fly. He pounced, when his target was at their weakest. He preyed, when he was supposed to protect. I don’t need to spell out what you did and how easily you managed to burn the flimsy bridge that was once between yourself and your kids. I once feared you, respected you, and looked up to you. But then one day, I saw you for who you really are. All of the faults and red flags that I had overlooked my whole life were finally unavoidable. And that’s when you became dead to me. The skeletons that are buried in your closet are what define you as a man, husband, and father. A failure. Yet, the moment your children cut you off like a cancerous growth, we flourished. There was a weight lifted off me that I never realized was there before. We are better, stronger people in spite of your efforts to make us otherwise. You died as you lived. Alone. Your legacy will forever be tied to the sadness you dealt and the lies you hid behind. And I feel sorry for you. Sorry that you destroyed the faith and love your children once had for you. It was left unsaid but I hope you knew that we were always better off without you. And wherever you are, I hope karma has met you with open arms.
my mind’s become a graveyard for things i’ve never said words that never left my lips, replaced by novelty instead like a hundred thousand voices all waiting to talk but i’ll bottle it up and sip it back like whiskey off the rocks because it’s an easy way to cope when you’re never on your own and your vision’s blurry and you’re in a hurry and you’re trying to stumble home
The Distraction CAMILLE DEHGHAN
I could see it at the bottom of the lake. Trapped underneath the rocks, drowning. I swam to the surface, briefly, gasping for air, planning to go back under immediately, but distracted by something flying by. I flipped onto my back and squinted towards the sun, trying to fight past its brightness to see what it was. I eventually gave up and returned to what was under the surface. The current must have pulled me further out because everything was new and unfamiliar. I frantically tried to find the spot, to find what I had lost. I couldnâ€™t. It was gone.