Letter from the Board
What is a close encounter? Is it seeing a lost lover? Is it locking eyes with a deer in the wild? Is it strolling past an abandoned house? Well, this semester, our contributors set out to discover everything a close encounter can be. It has been a pleasure bringing this issue to life and uplifting the creative voices from Pitt’s undergraduate community. We at Cherry Bomb hope our time together is not just a close encounter, but a long-lasting creative friendship.
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The Beauty of a Nebula by Marisleysis Gonzalez
With a whisper, a strange call, I beckon all lost men in starlit darkness to fall. It begins with a buzz. Then it develops into a hum, which leads to a low vibration that curdles the need to be with some other human being.
Men question the validity of what sits outside: Glowing! Vibrant! Lively! They glorify as they stand next to their tiny window to see— Wisps of colorful gasses swirling up and down and strands of stardust all around them in what should be a plain black infinite sky.
This exotic dance addicts them; it causes destruction as they pace around their obsolete rooms. They respond as if so wise, as if they thought about it all, that they leave behind a simple golden wedding band and respond to my seduction.
Thump! Thump! Thump! Beating inside the sterile ship, as he grips onto the latch, and I sing at the door in a looming voice that wishes to explore and hold a grip on the man for more than a feeling of satisfaction.
The air seethes into the void as the metal of the rocket crinkles with the door. The body grows cold as he begins to float, wrapped around the black fabric to cradle him in desired and delicious death.
dig. by Aster Ecker this sadness is going to live in my bones forever, isn’t it? archaeologists are going to find my bones deep within the earth my flesh long gone having fed the mushrooms and worms examining what’s left of my body like the rings of a tree they’ll see you and you and meby Yasmine Florent
the aliens by Chelsea Pappa we are the aliens that make us afraid. do we not abduct and exploit and invade? blinding headlights of unidentifiable objects on desolate desert highways, enough to make my skin crawl, but I suppose that makes a true patriot: jacked-up trucks with it’s-none-of-your-business kicking back a beer in the driver’s seat. the graves dug in the name of advancement. the bodies we take and mutilate when we’re done with them, the poking and prodding while they’re still warm. we might as well lay ourselves willingly on frigid metal tables, ready for the strapping down and the bitter cost of taking up space. the medicine we take to help us forget, or at least numb the pain. capsules, intravenous tubes, voltage to the brain. acres of cows disappearing day by day. circles in crop fields from acid rain. do we not destroy and leave the remains? we are the aliens that make us afraid.
The void by Sarah Good-Lang
No one can complete you No one else can complete you Get this tumor out of me I am sick of wasting mind (space) On you You are not concrete Or flowers
Or the feeling I get When I cry in my Own arms You are not my own arms.
CW: The following poem contains mature content including sexual themes and obscene language. The Cats Call by Dani Wormack
“Why don’t you come home with me tonight? Why don’t you grab the cock between my legs, twist the night away, tucked Tight in your bed tonight?
Why don’t you smile—girl?
Why don’t you curl your lips around my Hips and mold your mouth to mine, girl?”
Because when you walk, you bounce two basketballs on your chest. The cats shoot their shot on your body like a backboard. Try to play a pick-up game on your court, your home, your basket, your brea-The game where they love a girl that can ball. Where coach taught you to shoot. Where the target was the hoop. Where you own the shot, it doesn’t own you. Where the court had control. Where you were a forward, their hands moving forward. Wear sports bras to keep your front forward. Because Victoria shared all your secrets when she became point Guard in the concrete jungle, the cat calls street rules.
“Ma got the fatty. Why don’t you jump through the open window of my car, some pillow talk and Cigars, with that fatty?
Damn, why do you look so angry? Evil eyes while I make you burn from the inside out. Slide it in your mouth, if you’re so angry.”
Put on your longest leaves to hide the tree trunks. The same ones that gave way to the torso Bearing your forbidden fruits. The same ones that tempted Adam, not Eve. Shield cat claws from climbing up Mother’s most natural being. Bind the base in thick fabric of many layers. Duct taped down—like a gift-wrapped bicycle The curves still show through. Sculpted. Denim bows to the shape of your hips Granting the gallery a peak of marble underneath the sheer curtain Chiseled by Michelangelo’s hands. Meant to be seen. Nothing left to the imagination
Except the fat you squeeze in the mirror which the cats seem to eat.
“Yeah, I’m a slut.
I bet you could be one too if you put your hands down my Pants. Come dance with me, slut. Man, I like that.
Slip this whisper in your ear as I hug you from behind and Fuck you like that.”
‘How you doing tonight?’ would have been alright
If cat eyes didn’t undress you from the top down. Always top down. They want your top down. Hips down.
Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Like the hook to a rap song you used to like until The party hands materialized as paws, Pulling your top down. To stop them, you call— Legs. Ring, ring. Butt. Ring, ring. Arms. Ring, ring. Breasts. Ring, ring. Face. Ring, ring. Body. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.
They seldom answer. But when the cat calls... Fatty. Sexy. Ass. Hey ma. Come home with me. Slut. Those tits. Beautiful, make my night.
When the cat calls, “How you doing ma’am? Ma’am? Ma’am? Sweetheart? Bitch. Don’t I sound sincere? Don’t you understand it’s an honor to be called here? Sorry to bother YOU.”
There’s no church in the wild but it sounds like preaching. The cats teaching you to be thankful for this holy attention. You’ve been selected for salivation.
When the cat calls you, your body answers. Tries to run, to change, lock the femininity away. Cover your butt, your legs. Close your thighs. Cross your arms. Scrunch your face. Hide your eyes.
Your poker face is a brisk walk, sweaty pits, frantic hands, fleeting cries Inside your tall stalk, swaying hips, busty dance, orgasmic eyes. And you crawl onto the late bus as the toms slink by, Wishing to have never heard the howling of an alley cat’s call.
Lady of the ending by Sarah Good-Lang
I wish I could burn this moment Into me
Only the temporary Is so gorgeous I sit here with fireflies And long lost wishes With arms in arms
Under orange and blue Merging like two faces Warm melting into cool Into imagination and Stories It’s like A lullabye I never heard From you I sit here in the before-dark That is so safe And I will sit here in the after-dark And hold myself tight The way you couldn’t I will always wonder if this sky is Just a memory I feel too soon I named it myself, that brief story Out like a light but Stuck in my eyelids when I close them I don’t know if this is a letter or a poem or a mystery But it is about to leave me It is about to go I think I am writing so These colors stay here a little while longer So that they tuck me in and kiss my forehead Before the light goes out (Frida Kahlo once said She paints flowers So that they never die) All I remember is that Maybe I don’t even remember (And that is the scariest bit) Maybe I invented these sunset-seconds Of you watching me get home safe Maybe it was many dreams and nightmares ago That you felt what I feel now Stay a little while longer, please I see colors giving into twilight The moment is getting smaller now But the lightning bugs are staying with me And the story books and dead wishes, too
cauterize by Nick Vargo the night ended and the day came i found myself in the night clinging to a memory, stumbling and tripping through the void until a light illuminated the sky the flames flicker and lick the chilled night as wood tumbles to the ground the house collapses and burns the scars etched into the oak turn to ash i watch, as the world begins anew and the smoke drifts into the atmosphere the sunrises on the scene, marking the beginning of a new chapterby Romita Das
August by Ella Grant
One more turn Of the Big Wheel drags us Forward. You Can see the Push-and-pull, Feel gravity, just By standing still And paying Attention. Yesterday I wept into the Brown grass In an attempt To turn it green. The soil hardened Like clay in the Kiln and the roots, Without wiggle Room, surrendered.by Isabella Garfinkel
August always Has been a Rebirth of sorts, Even when it Feels like a Remarkable death. I outgrew my Old bike and Placed it on The curb, in its Absence I Let the wind Move me. I must breathe Life into everyone I love. I Must ride this Wave that is Bent on moving Through me. I miss doing Nothing with You.
pantoum for ivy by Sarah Good-Lang
This heat is fleeting And I know I must wait until The next time That earth and cherry blossoms grow from my eyes
I hated the waiting until I met your strawberry smile Then cherry blossoms seemed patient, the earth immortal I wish I could touch you through the glass and hold your face like a child holds onto their stupid dreams
When I met with your strawberry smile And wondered how long it would last You told me you wished you could hold onto me like a dream, if you could break the glass I have always known you in puddles and thunderstorms
I wonder how long this will last It’s never very long, lightning is quick to strike But I saw you in thunder, I knew you in puddles Before I met your laugh in the reservoir
Lightning doesn’t stay for long Though it scars and kills I heard it laugh at me once, as it struck the reservoir “You’re just like me, aren’t you?”
It scars me to kill you one day But I’ll do it in the secret garden like you always wanted You’re just like me, you are I’ll bury you in clay and sculpt him into you
I always grew my secrets like a garden And wore my lies like gemstones But he likes to bury me into him, he wants to sculpt me like a myth And I know who I am: flowers and wishes
Gemstones fill my eyes
When I look up, into the treetops And make my wishes on flowers And send them to the wind
In between the treetops, I look up
To find my memories swimming in the sky The wind sent them there To beg me to come back
As the sky swims in my memory
I count the goodbyes I’ve told I beg them to come back And wonder how many of them did
Counting goodbyes in my head
I know they’re all fleeting, like this heat I wonder how many had this feeling Of earth and cherry blossoms growing from behind their eyesby Nina Stepniczka
Happy Accidents by Mia Naccarato
Dinah’s lips tasted like sugar and happy accidents. She smelled like fresh cut grass and Grammie’s lemonade, and she looked at me like I was the only thing in the world worth looking at.
We sat in the cornfield behind the old chapel, crumbling gravestones and uncut grass like forgotten memories.
The stalks tickled our noses, our shoulders, the tips of our hair and fingers. My hair blended in with the corn, rich yellows and browns and whisps of white here and there.
Anyone could see Dinah’s hair from miles away, bright red flames dancing with the summer breeze.
Dinah’s hair was not made of fire, but when I put my hands in it, fingers brushing the base of her scalp, it felt like I was ablaze with her flames, burning me from the inside out, settling in my belly like a warm dinner after a long day.
Dinah’s hair was not made of fire, but the rest of her was.
Pastor Michael said that her tongue may as well be forked for all that she used it for. She talked louder than she should and said things she probably shouldn’t.
She lived in the old cabin in the woods behind my house, her daddy gone most of the day at work. Her momma had left home one day with a cigarette in her mouth, and she didn’t come back.
Dinah said she didn’t like her much anyway.
But every night, Dinah’s bedroom light would stay on way past her curfew, her small frame perched on the windowsill, peering out onto the road that curved through the woods.
Her daddy didn’t tell her stop with that and go the hell to bed. He didn’t tell her much of anything.
Her daddy didn’t like looking at Dinah much. At her fiery hair, and her big mouth, and her bright blue eyes.
firewords by Sarah Good-Lang
I am a big great inferno Of many faces I once loved
I learned the language I discovered is spoken Between two trees Across oceans and starshine Puddles and clay Hands on faces and Warm whispers Wind on wings Wishes on dandelions Freckles on eyelids Heat to the fire Author to the fresh page Reader to printed thought Moonlight to story book Gold to green Fresh rainfall to footfall To heartbeat To dancer To the now and To the next now And to the way This page Lives inside New brains And fresh voices Old thoughts And dead smiles I will never see this now again But write these words in fire So they can sooner join the sunby Jacob Williams
To The Moon by Isaac Anticole
Cryptocurrency. Don’t ask me what it is called or how much it cost for them to obtain. We aren’t going to last. This much I know. To think there won’t even be a second date. You’d think it would be easier to find someone that understands you. With millions of people on this planet, you’d think at least one existed. To the moon they say before asking if I knew about supply and demand.
Most people dream of going far way into the woods. I respect that, but I think we need to look to moving vertically away instead of horizontally. Sometimes I wish I could just be abducted by aliens. In their ship I’d lay out on a comfortable metal table. They’d analyze each minute motion I made learning about me both inside and out.
Are you building your credit? I just want to be a credit to the human race. When the day’s experiments would finish, they’d feed me glorbs of meat and broccoli (my favorite) with a side of apple juice. The apple juice would be kept in translucent packs that I’d snap up in one bite. Even as I’d sleep at night, there’d be cords and sensors strapped to me measuring each movement and value.
When the next morning comes, we would only know based on the clock since there is no sun to watch deep in space, they’d serve me little pancakes. The butter would be kept in those little plastic cups. After eating, I’d be lowered back to Earth in a green tractor beam. As they’d float back up to the stars, I’d wave goodbye and see the shadow of a slim hand in the window.
How could they ever understand this fantasy? Why would you enjoy them paying so much attention to you? Where’s the financial gain in that? At least one of those would be a good question.
Remediated by Ella Grant
And so begins the slow march towards invention Telling time by another girl’s complexion
I am easy in that I crave only attention Watch me shrivel at the advent of affection.
With the cold dead of winter comes the cold white of flyers, Tacked to the splintering poles, unadmired, Unread they may be, their words do not tire: “You, yes, you, Can be saved from the fire!”
Are you sick, doubled over, by your own conjuncture? Skin stretched thin, do your collarbones puncture That gelatin membrane turning to leather?
Did the dream of the jukebox to which your heart tethers Ionize wordlessly? Spare me the worst of it. We are the same We burn for a burst of it.
In the well of desire You’ll face the true meaning Of the secret long-held By the world’s most demeaning: “You, in your heyday, your manic-pilled prime: You get to touch God! But only one time.”
Dream log by Sarah Good-Lang i sometimes am sure i have only had two dreams ,,, in the first ,,, i am rain,,, falling ,,, in many places,,, into many rivers,,, which are of course just,,, one endless river,,, and,,,one endless rain,,, i enter a few eyelids,,, and dampen a few scalps,,, for a moment,,, i have an impact,,, for a moment,,, i am felt,,, on the body,,, for a moment. in other places,,, i,,, the rain,,, become only another drop,,, in an ocean,,, the endless drop,,, and what am i then,,, am i rain river ocean,,, i am not sure if i am more significant among more of myself or less,,, in the second dream,,, i climb atop a grassy hill,,, bronzed by a certain kind of sunlight,,, i have only seen in this dream,,, i would call it safety,,, if it had a name,,, and at the top of the hill,,, there is a space,,, for me,,, a circle i feel under my feet,,, i know it is meant for me,,, to grow upon,,, in this space,,, i ground myself,,, and hold my head high (this is how i know it is a dream),,, and feel my flesh blood skin matter,,, harden into the only other form in which it could be more alive rather than less,,, newborn roots form from my fingertips,,, and my hair solidifies into branches,,, i am adorned,,, in tree bark and snail shells and acorns and leaves,,,that will live and die,,, i don’t know if i lived or died,,, or what i am now,,, but it must be alive in some wayby Pamela Smith
The House by Joshua Reed
is a house at the end of the street
With crooked shudders and fading, chipped paint With vines and ivy that crack through broken shutters Perhaps it was once cared and loved, but those days are long, long gone
What once was a home, is a just another house
A blooming, vibrant green lawn, filled by laughter during the endless summer evenings of childhood Now is choked with dead crabgrass Rooms where children opened presents on Christmas and families debated over dinners are now silent and flavorless The exterior stares back at you, broken windows gazing an unbreaking judgment
Every time you pass by, some primal, unreasonable feeling in your stomach tells you to run Or at least to walk just a bit faster It is not the house that scares you It is the thought in the back of your head that won’t shut up That one distant day, that house could be yours That one day, there will be a broken, abandoned, chilling house at the end of a street That used to be called home.
I did not ever leave you by Sarah Good-Lang I am hearing through older ears
I won’t be part of the green forever Though perhaps I’ll become Moss I won’t always draw in Curious glances The saxophone will lose Its breath The tea will grow Cold The paint will fade And The encore to The encore will end With applause And The guitar will disappear Behind the curtain Where do we go Then? Some of us move in Circles, spirals Not everyone has A destination I wonder If that is a curse Or A blessing by Julia Kebuladze
My body will leave
This park bench And disappear into Many brains
I will get lost in the stories Fragments of me In each
The whirring persists as The youth flies by and The church bells Ring
Do you feel that I’m thinking into you? Are you feeling my thoughts float?
The stone man stares At me from Across The garden
I think he’s considering floating, Too.
I will stand up And walk away
Exit through wind Dissipate into rustled branches
And shadows on concrete
But I did not ever leave you. I did not ever leave you.
The Waves by John Hollihan You stand on the waves. Dawn encroaches whilst Your sons fly around the sun Blowing the waves where you walk.
The metallic stone Stretched across the sky. But, it tricks The winds.
O, north wind— Blowing winds of bitter ice To the waves above. O, south wind— Pouring water below, Replenish the water of the waves.
O, Zephyrus— Bringing the warmth of flowers. And Eurus with the harvest fruits. Four brothers for four seasons.
In the west, you stand Carrying the sun Into the center sky. Upon the eastern horizon, There you are, without the sun Raising the Evening Star For tomorrow.
by Jacob Williams
Dés Vuby Sarah Good-Lang
You were born Holding still Once in awhile You look up The moment Already a memory Somehow you know The presence of Some hidden future A time traveler, Still so young Not yet stopping to Revel in the World that once was. Too early for The future Nothing to do but Take one last look You are an ocean of what you saw.by Des Greene
08/24/22 by Caroline Waters
i had a feeling i’d get emotional running up the hill i learned to ride my bike on but i couldn’t know what the wind’s soft soprano had in store and when it coaxed down the same leaves that watched me trudge up this hill every day until i was strong again
i wept for the girl that i was, the one i’m becoming, and for the selfless sunset that it took me so long to thank.
the august-long drought broke right then and for a little while we wept together.by Des Greene
I’ve never owned a halcyon sweater But, if I did, then I would put it in the box On the top shelf Of my bedroom closet / Roses would waft From my closet Through my studio Apartment Where we used to Be / Every time I dream of us I would wear the sweater And remember How naïve and in love we used to be
Ibsen 57 by Sarah Good-Lang Rulers of the world huddled together for food, nothing more. They had not yet needed the truth. Order Is the way hard-working people don't think. Magic is a mass of organisms with the human shape That has to be earned. Living and feeding also has to be earned. You have no right to Water. A revolution Was a Birth Without pay. A dream of a Cure.