issue no.2 | aug. 2016
this is a publication dedicated to new growth while never letting go of the inner child. it is a paradox, it is juvenescence, it is the eternal struggle between letting go and holding on. so dear reader, let your inner wilderness roam free, let it float between trees like haunting morning fogs or let it light up the sunset sky.
issue 2 - summer 2 016
tempestuous: adjective; characterized by strong and turbulent or conflicting emotion; of or relating to a tempest; violent or stormy A love affair that sweeps one off one’s feet. The explosive and wild disruption of fireworks and cold lighting. Piercing steel rain pounding upon skyward cheekbones and folded backs. Gales stirring black waters into turquoise froth as a hand clutches a pearl and prays to what god there is above. Thunder, so loud there is no thought, only noise and static. And then there is simply the quiet as pencil thin shafts of light penetrate leaden, mercurial clouds which drift away, replaced by a brilliant sun, too bright, diamond bright as it reflects off the glassy waters and mirrored puddles.
Letter From the Editor
Dear Readers, It was a thunderstorm that first blew me into the world of art and literature. It was the beauty of swirling clouds and racing silver streaks on car windows that compelled me to capture scenes in physical forms, that pushed me to express the majesty of the world around me. I was a spring baby, born anew into a novel millennium as the world refreshed after the rare leap day with the onset of the first March thunderstorm. As I grew to love the cloudbursts consisting of yellow skies, electrified air, and earth-shaking reverberations, I realized that this inclination perhaps arose from the conditions surrounding the dawn of my life, and that my own being paralleled the commencement and cessation of a tempest. I was ever awed by storms, from the blizzards of New York to the tornados of Chicago and the fits of lighting on North Carolinian summer nights. Through one such tempest, I witnessed the eggshell-blue sky leech itself of color, varying its shade to a pale yellow, and my heart leapt as in the distance there gathered a towering grey mass of cumulonimbus clouds, their bottoms fading into thin wisps as the rain held inside disassociated itself with the stratosphere and tumbled to the earth, striking the asphalt warmed by the blazing summer sun with a soft hiss as the water vaporized. Nebulous, mysterious fog writhed from the pavement, underneath it shimmering prismatic shades of leaked oil, beckoning, whispering, enthralling my youthful mind with unknowns and questions waiting to be explored and answered. The tree trunks ran black with stormwater, and emerald maple leaves flew through the air like verdant stars, forming puerile constellations that collapsed the next second as if they had been swallowed by black holes. Foliage fortunate enough to still be attached to broughs bowed to the force of winds and nature, showing pale, silver undersides where cuticles and stomata had vanished. As life and the forces that endow life clashed in a mesmerizing battle, the burgeoning artist within me ached to document the phenomenon, to chart the pathways of astral leaves orbiting their effervescent suns of summer trees, to calculate the velocity of churning vapor in the sky, to record the gradience of the sky from beryl to amber
to a dark, amaranthine-indigo, as dictated by the clouds scattering ultraviolet radiation. At home, I dug through my drawers for a digital camera, my first one, a clunky blue casio model that would nourish my later love for professional photography, seeking to capture the world with all its meticulous interactions, and fled into the downpour, shielded from the tumultuous sky only by a navy blue umbrella. As I headed towards my hideaway, I paused to smell not the roses whose petals drooped from the weight of water but rather the fresh air infused with the aroma of broken leaves and crouched to archive the image of honeysuckle blossoms spattered with delicate drops of rain, capillary action holding the clear, fragile orbs together. I ducked under a branch of pine intertwined with ivy and jumped over a decaying log, fancying myself like the early explorers unveiling uncharted territory, innovative. Now sheltered underneath the lush summer canopy of deciduous leaves, my imagination grew boundless. As birds chirped and the wind writhed among the brush, I envisioned myself as the storm. I was the water, splitting through the fogs and mists of uncertainty, relentlessly seeking, questioning, spreading over the earth in search of new grounds, new experiences, new ideas, providing nourishment for juvenescence. I was wind and lightning, toppling the dead and decayed trees of outdated designs like fetishization, objectification, and discrimination. I was the thunder, willing to make my voice known, as loud and as resounding as a clarion call in the wilderness. I was born during a storm, and willing to become one as well. Welcome to the Tempestuous Issue, Helen Li, Editor in Chief of Effervescent Magazine
Table of Contents
Featured Artist: Oscar Calleja Featured Writer: Sarah Little Thrift Shop Girls by Jacqueline He Valentine’s Day by Elizabeth Gibson Wish by Julia Drzewiecka This Little Place Called Earth by Haley Chung Last Summer by Nicholas Gustavson The Way Home by Ana Prundaru Summer by Yen Rong Wong Red Confetti by Anastasia McEwen Natural Disasters and Other Things We Don’t Think About When We Say Spring by Stephanie Tom Her Name by Courtney LeBlanc Butterfly by Elizabeth Gibson Rebuilding By Courtney LeBlanc True American by Olivia Hu April Fool by Courtney LeBlanc Turbulence by Sumaya Makhdoom Broken Quiet by Courtney LeBlanc Always the North Wind by Carl Boon
Untitled by David Atchkinson Now Sinks the Storm by Clio Velentza
Featured Artist Oscar Calleja
Oscar lives in Poland temporarily, coming from a little town in Cantabria (Spain) and normally studying in Salamanca. Studying media and cinematography, he dreams of becoming an influential director of photography and a photographer. He was born in a family of artists but that didn't stop people saying he had to be realistic and look for a real aim, but yet here he is, working hard to success in his journey, which for him is the most beautiful of all journeys. Oscar will always thank the teacher who, when he was fourteen, allowed him to film his work for school instead of writing them; that teacher has no idea the good he did for him and the world that was opened for him that day he was filming a bee with his home camera while doing one of his school works.
Featured Writer Sarah Little
Sarah Little doesn’t do very well taking selfies, so she tries to describe herself and fails. When she isn’t trying to create her self-description, she blogs a portfolio of creative writing on tuckedintoacorner, amuses her colleagues with tales of her writing adventures, and spends probably too much time looking for shenanigans on Twitter. So far, she hasn't published anywhere that isn't her blog. She hopes you like what she has to say.
Not Made To Rest
“I’m an actress baby, and actresses don’t come with storm warnings,” she whispers in my ear, leaning forward like she’s telling me the best secret the universe has to offer. Her lips shine under the harsh spotlights, light reflecting off her glossy pink. She’s leaning so close I can see the tiny flecks sparkling in her gloss, fresh despite the smoky atmosphere. So she’s a gloss-girl, pink and light and sweet, sweetly high-maintenance. Pale-blond hair glows pink under the lights, glitter sparking in her eyes with the reflections of the swaying lights. We dance. She teaches me how to get the bartender to mix a drink custom for you, slides a note across the bar before I can see the denomination and pulls me away by the hand. Calls it the Harley, doesn’t say why. “Let me help you get a cab,” she insists, bowing mock-gallantly and holding the door. To someone like her, it’d be uninteresting to ask when I’ll see her again – worse, if. I get in alone, slouch back in my seat and close my eyes even as I know she’s waving. I don’t see her again, until I do: she’s curled up outside the door to my studio, clasping coffee and a bag with the logo of my favourite bakery. She ambles lazily to her feet as if the open door is all the invite she needs, but now it’s been offered she isn’t sure she wants it. We eat silently, idly over fast-cooling coffee and pick apart pastries like birds. She’s dainty, thin bracelet looped around a fine-boned wrist and piano-player’s hands. I’m reminded of her comment about storm warnings, and I can’t picture her creating any kind of storm.
She looks up from the pastry that’s now mangled, lying shredded on the plate, curls her mouth around a smile that looks out of place on someone so fresh-faced. “Want to see a storm tonight?” she offers, and for a minute I wonder if I’ve spoken aloud. “No.” It’s reflexive, abrupt – startles even me, and I set the foam coffee cup back on the table, soundless. She looks a little disappointed, then swings her legs off the couch and gathers the bag she dumped on the ground when she sat. She’s so familiar, despite being the second time we’ve ever met. I’ve never had a visitor act so familiar in my apartment, never had someone bring coffee and make themselves at home. She kisses my cheek when she leaves, brushing the scent of coffee-cinnamon-vanilla over me and slipping out the door. Something about her is oddly catlike, I think absently as I brush off her lip gloss and clean up the detritus of the food. I still don’t know her name, it occurs to me. I suspect she doesn’t know mine, either. I don’t sleep that night, too wide-awake and too absorbed in watching for a storm that never comes. She has piqued my curiosity now so when she shows up at the door a week later bearing two pizzas, I invite her in. As she closes the door I spot a duffle bag, and she tracks my gaze to it, looking embarrassed for the first time since I’ve met her. (This is when I understand what she meant when she promised I’m an actress) The bag is overstuffed, stray tubes of makeup spilling out and clothes stuffed in haphazardly. I can’t make sense of any individual item, but I sit on the bed and watch as she shakes out a dozen pieces of clothing, costume pieces that no-one would ever wear in their day-to-day life. These clothes are meant for treading the stage. “Oh, darling, don’t you know? The world is our stage. We are all performers,” and she grasps my hands in her own icy ones, stares green eyes into mine, begging me to understand. “I do, I get it,” I tell her (too quickly). She seems relieved and drops my hands, turns her attention to lining the dresser with perfume bottles and countless lotions and potions. The table space fills, looks like home, and she sprays two different perfumes, leaves them to mingle in the air. Tucks her hand into the crook of my arm.
“Buy me dinner?” she implores, and it’s not in me to refuse. She’s a whirlwind alright, first moving in uninvited and unwarned and then making my space her own. We eat at her choice of restaurant though she takes precisely nine minutes over the menu (“I always take nine minutes deciding what to eat”) and the staff are hovering with more than a little irritation. At last we order and there’s a hint of mischief to her smile, danger simmering low in her eyes. “So, how about a storm tonight?” she asks, and now she’s the one looking impatient. I feel I know the correct answer – yes – but the word stops in my throat. She shakes her head, purses her lips and stabs a piece of bread with her fork. (It’s the first time I’ve seen her mood so much as leave tranquil, but it’s back, thirty minutes, one dessert and two cups of coffee later) I can feel the caffeine making its way through my veins and wonder if her second espresso is having a similar effect. It’ll be a while before I crash, so I order another just to be sociable. That night when we get home we play classical music and dance, wildly clattering around the tiny space and knocking things over. It’s dawn before I stagger into bed, burying myself below the duvet in hopes of sleep coming faster. She gets up two hours later, I hear her clashing in the kitchen as if my few meagre utensils are instruments. (Sometimes, I get the sense that she is creating some kind of melody.) There’s breakfast on the table, a stack of French toast and various fruits I didn’t even know I had. She’s bouncing between the table and the stove, glittering with wild energy. Today, her lip colour is a muted pink lipstick. (Sometimes, I think I have learned to read her just by her choice in lipstick.) She talks a little fast when she sees me – “I had to go to the market, apologize for invading your space so I made breakfast and coffee, let’s go to the beach this afternoon and sleep some more this morning.” I sit quietly as she chats about the beach and how she’ll pin up dresses over my curtains to shut out more light so I can sleep this morning. Going back to bed, it’s easy to crash. There’s something nagging at me, but before I can think about it I’m already
under the covers, my eyes closing. Sleep is not peaceful tonight, even after drinking peppermint-and-chamomile tea; then again, it never does shut down dreams. True to her word she hooks coat hangers with dresses and billowy long skirts over the curtains, shutting out just a little more light. (The soft skirts don’t suit her. They should be sharp fitting pencil skirts, the better to sketch her imagination into real life) (She doesn’t suit real life, she suits fairytales and myth, being a creature from the dark, one who walks in shadows and steals something you never knew you needed) I awake to piano music drifting through the room and – when did I get a piano, there’s no space for it is my first thought. My second is that there is coffee brewing, properly brewing. I rarely break into the stash of good coffee, trying to keep costs down where I can. A cup of good coffee is what happens after work, not before it. She’s there, dancing around the kitchen. As far as I can tell, the piano isn’t creating any kind of rhythm – the music rises and falls, crashes and crescendos with every few heartbeats. It’s nothing I’ve ever heard and the look in her eyes is electricity-bright. There’s a storm tonight. I hear this as clearly as if she has spoken the words, but her lips are still and today I know her voice better than any, know the inflection she places on storm as if she’s speaking of a lover, the way she brushes over unimportant words and caresses the main one. “Gravitas,” she told me once, staring at paintings of storm-tossed seas, “is the most important.” Of what, I never asked. I move around her, lightening and quickening my steps so we are nearly dancing around each other. She plays, dipping backwards on one foot, holding her arms out in empty embrace. Her hair skims the tile of the kitchen and I pour her another jumbo coffee, draining the pot and setting a fresh one to boil. We drink, rich and plain and not troubling with sweeteners, not troubling ourselves to count. (We need to stay awake for the storm) She drives to the beach, parks at the clifftops – it’ll take too long to wind down the long narrow road, driving 30 km an hour and hoping for it to stay dry. Mid-afternoon feels like late evening, it’s already darkening and she waves me away after parking. In my peripheral I see her moving around in the
backseat before she clambers out, snags the hem of her dress on the lever under the seat and it tears. Silver-white sequins scatter, starlike, over the seats. The sky darkens and the air is chilly. We stand on the cliff, well back from the railing that stops us toppling over, and wait. Thunder rolls in first, lightning hitting the ocean and lighting it silver. I can feel my heart thudding, taste the coffee still on my lips and swallow anxiety, bitter and pill-shaped. She grasps my hand, turns to me and I can see in her posture that there’s madness in her bones. Her eyes are wild tonight. She strips away the civil mask that she built with makeup and accessories. Tonight she isn’t a temptress in a club telling you how the world works; she isn’t the cute girl who brings you coffee or the chilled-out one who moves into your apartment unannounced and uninvited. Tonight she peers over the cliff top as far as she can without touching the metal fence, grabs my hand at the next flash of lightning and shouts something I can’t make out. There’s a break in the fence, a set of battered wooden steps. Still with her hand in mine, she tugs me towards the railing, extends her arm back behind her to keep our hands linked as we clatter down the steps, drowned out by the thunder. Her heels are tall, strappy and spindly and horribly impractical, but still she wears them, kisses the red off her lips onto mine and looks up at me through her lashes, coyly biting her lip. I climb onto the largest rock I find, and as I watch she dances in the damp sand, kicks it all over the place. Draws a line in between dry and wet sand. She skips perilously close to the water, dips an ankle in and I hear her yell how the water’s lovely. Energy crashes and I see the brightness in her eyes, the moodiness in the set of her jaw. Her hands shake when she pulls me off the boulder, spins me around in imitation of a waltz, lightning dress flying out all around her. Beyond us, the ocean lights up white and rain begins, rending clothes ragged and pounding the ocean. I feel it more than anything else, how she’s desperate to go to the ocean, but at the same time there’s some small piece of logic still in her. Don’t go to the ocean, I will her, we are already here (there).
We sit, curl into each other and watch the ocean. She’s still in totteringly high heels, dress soaked and in my hand, her manicure glitters with lightning – as the moon rises, I make out silver forks of polish streaked over each nail, different directions and the trifecta descends upon us: hail and thunder and lightning. We make our way back to the car, sleep in reclined seats and wake to the sunrise over the horizon. There’s a basket in the back seat, packed with non-perishables that are breakfast. Below us, on the beach, the mini-fort is in ruins, rocks and branches everywhere. My jeans are thick with damp sand and her dress hangs from her shoulders in tatters. “Tonight,” she tells me, “there’s no storm.” She pulls a telescope from the trunk, unfolds it and presses her eye to it. What she’s looking for, I don’t know. There’s another bag in the back of the car, but when I go to investigate she swats my hand away. “Wait until it’s darker.” We change out of our storm-rags into new dresses. Tonight, they are pale yellow and navy blue, scattered with stars and cloud-daubed white paints. Tonight, she looks like sunshine. We share the telescope, sitting together as close as we can. She thinks she sees Mercury, but the lenses are shitty: somewhere along the line dust got into them, blurring things beyond recognition. In her soft yellow dress she is mercurial, bones white under the moon and stars – matching the effect of the moon on the dress, bleached white. Her lips are red again, eyes storm-dark and this time she paints my eyes with mascara, liner, shadows to match her own. “We’re stargazing. If we can’t match, we have to coordinate,” she says, whispers it like it’s a secret, boldly like it’s a story she just has to tell. She is mercurial, and there’s no rest to be had. We can’t fuel up on coffee, so it’s simple to stay awake, push our bodies to the limits of wakefulness. On the second day we sleep in the car again, resting for the drive. This time I drive, her hands tapping white noise as I tap the pedal to speed up or let the car drift along. For once, I don’t allow myself to think of the sight this must make: two storm-logged creatures in gowns, last night’s makeup still in place and eyes glassy, sleepless-red. “Storm’s over,” she says when we arrive home. She takes the keys, dangles them with a raised eyebrow, slots them into the
ignition and starts driving. I watch her drive; it’s the only time that she looks completely concerned with what she is doing. It’s also the only time I’ve seen her look uncertain in the slightest. The caffeine is leaving my system now, wearing off from the cocktail of adrenaline and energy and I’m about to crash. I don’t know what she’s up to but she’ll be back. A few hours later she’s back, more bags piled in the car and tosses me my key, slings the first of the bags over her shoulder, weary and wary. “Sure you can stay,” I decide. Spur of the moment. Maybe living with her, I’ll learn something. Sure baby, you’re an actress.
Thrift Shop Girls Jacqueline He
(Before the sky crescendos white and the cracked sun slides out egg yolk, let’s savor the frosted indigo nights like cheap spun sugar under our tongues.) We were two-a-penny dolls, cheeks painted, lips glossed pale, cracking soda straws in ice cream parlors. Even their cherry swivel chairs are translucent with grease. Under the lilting ‘80s jukebox music you warbled aubades in the shell of my ear. When I close my eyes I still see the trembling ocean illuminated pink in the brittle mornings. People are dim ghosts, mirage-like but to me your face was smeared candle light, like Pan’s pixie dust. I found you bent in the alley unrolling eggshell stockings, clutching the remnants of silken moonlight as spitfire shudders out your throat. Under red restaurant warmth you shattered into porcelain rubble, off-key and cacophonous - damaged goods worth half-a-penny.
Elizabeth Gibson There are frothy white icing and sugar hearts on cakes and red roses in a boy’s hand as he heads home from college and some corny movie in our residence later. A song about Paris plays on repeat and glitter gleams. All this is nice. But my love is not pink and sparkly. It does not take the shape of love hearts or red roses. It is hard to describe except that it consumes me, fills me, makes the inky sky beautiful even without stars. My love is as strong today as any other day. Romance and cupids can’t affect it. It burns always, a blue fire. And things like your laugh – oh, that laugh – or your affection can make that blue magma rise and flood me like a waterfall, crashing, like a galaxy strewn through my soul. Mon amour. Comme un feu. Comme l’océan. The song has petered out but my heart keeps singing, You, I love you, I love you, on every day of the year.
Julia Drzewiecka Make a wish upon a star It won't take you very far The wonder and whim doesn't last anyway It's just like any other day Make a wish on the time 11:11, the famous prime When you wake it won't be magic Reality hits and it'll be tragic Make a wish when the clock strikes midnight Dumping the withering year after a long fight Promise to do better and hope to be alive The next time your mind decides take a dive
This Little Place Called Earth Haley Chung
It is on the second day of seventh grade that I learn the sun will swallow us in about 7.6 billion years. There are a few seconds where the class splits into panic, but the teacher is quick to assuage our fears. “It shouldn’t be a concern for us,” she laughs. “We’ll be long gone by then.” My classmates relax, jot the information into their notes, and forget about it. But not me. Because then I start thinking about the five minutes I spend in the morning debating whether Kelly Statnyk will like my outfit, or the ten I spend chickening out of talking to her. No. Even more than that. I start to think about the hours I spend studying material I won’t remember, and the days I spend at some desk in a school. I start to think and think and think. People run marathons, climb mountains, swim oceans right? They spend lifetimes dedicated to making a difference, to leave some form of a mark in this world. But why? Who cares if they set some world record? Beat some high score? Win some award? Because the sun is going to engulf us. Just imagine it — the edges of the sun, stretching out towards us. Its tendrils will reach earth, flame to gasoline, and the fire will zip across our world like a messenger. Earth will be a blazing ball of fire, and any onlookers would mistake it as the sun. All traces of the centuries of blood, pain, and sweat will be gone. Our home will be done, obliterated, gone. In 7.6 billion years from today, the sun will swallow the stars, the sky, and most of all, this little place called earth. And the rest of the universe will go on.
Nicholas Gustavson I dream about a new planet, blanketed with blue oceans, rotating youthfully on its axis. I don’t know how we arrived, my friends and I, but we’re hanging around like a cluster of moons, human satellites in orbit above the planet’s exosphere. We spin around the equator, faster and faster, laughing like children on a carousel ride. At least we’re wearing space suits. It only takes a minute to complete a revolution. Oceans. Blips of land. Craggy spines of continental mountain ranges. Mysterious swirling storms, the color of latte foam. I’m also watching from outside, beyond gravity, filming with an out-of-body selfie stick I sometimes experience in dreams. First Nat and Ally whizz by, holding hands, giggling like they always do, oblivious to everything and everyone else. Then Em approaches, boots first, smiling like she’s just overheard a secret. She’s my best friend, and we are whisperers, always huddled behind my locker door or under the sheets of her twin bed. I ask her what the secret is, but she rotates beyond my view. Her glove trails stardust across my visor. The rest of our gang streams past my stick; Liz, Clara, Ash, Sarah, even Em’s twin sister, Reagan, the one who died last summer chasing her skateboard into the riverbed. I can’t see her face because her solar shield is lowered, a golden mask. A Pharaoh’s tomb. But everyone else is smiling and waving, beeping and rotating. The globe speeds up. I hear gears grinding. I smell engine oil. That’s when Nat loses her grip on Ally, and they break apart. I film them drifting out of orbit and into the soundless deep. I shout to Em to help them, but she can’t hear me, of course. She’s on the other side of the world. Then, golden
faced Reagan slips into a decaying orbit. One second she’s circling with grace, and the next she’s sinking, further down with each revolution, until she’s spins into clouds, an anticyclonic storm. Did Em see her go? Did Em have to say goodbye again? Everyone breaks ranks now, a penumbra of human moons and we’re all zigs and zags. But Em, sweet Em, passes me again. I reach out and my glove snags her pressure suit zipper, and now we’re tangled together and picking up momentum. I’m so scared, Em. What’s your secret, Em? She smiles. Her eyes are moons, and she presses her visor against mine, conspirators like before. She whispers, “time to let me go.” But I won’t let her. So she pushes me away. As we detangle my glove pulls her zipper; it’s enough to deflate her, and she follows her sister, decaying into ether. Through the stick I watch the rest of them diminish; Liz, Clara, Ash, and Sarah. I watch the planet molt into something smaller, the oceans slimmer, the storms now just blur spots through my visor. That’s when I realize I’m not using the stick anymore, just my plain ordinary vision, because I’ve broken out of orbit, and I’m fading into starry darkness. But my suit is still beeping. Then I start molting. I’m on my own course now, a strange planet newly born.
The Way Home Ana Prundaru I. Music and Relics
Ala Bala Portocala - Eny, meeny, miny moe. Locked in my mind, chants that will outlive me, because nothing seems to last as long as the echoes of secret childhood whispers. On a walk through the streets of my youth, I catch a glimpse of my own childhood. I watch kids imagining Soviet era blocks to lush forests, as their Dads pull them on wooden sleighs. On each trip, impressions mingle with memories and they operate on my skull. I draw a talisman to stow away between lantern lips, leave a trail of red apples in an ever-altering passageway. When we land, the burst of unturned flesh is so familiar, as is its perpetually numbness by feral whispers. My first instinct is to remain seated, fly back from memories that already hang from my chest like a multi-layered pearl chain; the comfort of a weight, both familiar and dire. II. Inside and Outside our Walls Approaching the street that takes sips of my heartbeats, I hide my voice, adrift in everyone's shade and disembodied accents fade landlocked, the light breathless, softening away angles, as I plummet to hints of thunderstorms on my grandparents' sofa. The apartment used to house gentle violin sounds, now all shredded, spilled back to night circles. For now, I house the silence inside grandmother's old wall clock. I sit by the
abandoned piano, half-bodied, posturing myself inside out. Clover mites to nails. Stone songs are my silver. The drift of moonlight against a glass avalanche in my mouth. Since I too was left behind, I skip a note on the untuned piano, invite the barefooted ghosts of tick tock, forgotten slim as dust flooring light. On the balcony, a birdless forest rolls me to a flowered river and I turn the blue above in my hands. I can't take its galvanized arms, enclose my mind in old photographs, to kill the day. In the kitchen, the long gone childhood feels only semi-over and between shabby mustard-colored cupboards, each time I return, I am desperately out of place, going through half a matchbox to get milk boiling on the stove. III. History asks to be repeated Grandmother used to say here is your home. You can roam the world but you will always leave your heart in the place you were born. Her own home was perhaps her husband and a place they painted in the future: Italy, France and the Wild West. It crumbled before it was built. Fifty years ago, my grandparents and their families were evicted from their home and in the aftermath, the family scattered around the globe. Some never re-united, except in death, which was nothing uncommon for Communist times. Grandfather would go pseudo-fishing at the park Cismigiu, where he swayed on a boat between teenaged couples sipping Fanta grape, his forehead taking on the color of flamencos, as he waited patiently for treasure on the bottom of the lake,
eventually giving up and taking the bus to the edge of town, back to the new home, which never became a real home. IV. I am here. Or am I? Nowhere else do I witness strangers passing down blankets and a used cot for a family without central heating. Widows collecting surviving street dogs they find crumpled on the sidewalk, for the night. Seems death is following me home, its brothers, unrelenting years creeping past neighbors, who recognize me, while I have no idea who they are. Remembering family outings at the Black Sea, I swirl wasted through the night speed in a maxi taxi toward past. It's dark when sand blankets my bones. The waves seem to shout tabula rasa. They soften the rules, deleting whole chapters with cold licks and re-framing memories rose-gold. Seagulls loll on folding chairs, their patience bribed by marshmallows and half empty plastic cups. In one silent apologetic existence, I close my eyes and when I open them, the winter sun coats me and others with its terra cotta fingerprints. I rise the streets, kill forever, rescue the now, call it a new start. After all, freedom owes nothing to the night. Aged 14, the sea told me I was invincible. Growing up in a crowd of kisses and tattoos, I was invincible. In the city that slaughters me time and time again, baring my bones on the sidewalks, next to dead trees, the soothing balm that is the snow melts me alive and again I wonder what would have happened, if I had stayed.
V. The World is my Playground, or: Playing Ping-Pong with my body On the plane back home away from home, I want to follow bird calls, rip my hair and leave a trail, just in case I fall out of love with the city inside my love. The world is a non-paying passenger. In-between and above my homes, I wish my soul were re-homed in a tree trunk that invents as many fables for its bruises as me. Rocks, paper, scissors, scars, sand and bones. I starve the night-god, hang it like the animal of screams, sway between the smooth white hurts and the roughness of ailing trees.
Summer Yen Rong Wong The sun shone. Perhaps a little too brightly, with a little too much eagerness. It was a time to be happy, to forget about the frost and chill of winter, at least for a little while. But the sun was angry. All those happy people, frolicking about on the sand, on the grass, or even in their homes, swathed in gush after gush of artificially created cold air. They didn’t care about the sun. They just cared about themselves, and all the fun they could have. So it smiled even bigger, even louder. It smiled until its face hurt, and the blue sky ran with orange veins. But it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to even touch the earth, even to singe a blade of grass. No matter. It would try again the next day. And the next. Until it managed to hold the world in the palm of its hand. Then it would crush these little people, their little houses, their little lives, still smiling. Watching, as the world burned. Smiling.
Red Confetti Anastasia McEwen Slick with cherry chapstick I leap onto the ice. Darting past skaters I weave in and out, muscles pulsing, ears stinging, hair snapping behind me like a flag in a gale. Now I’m soaring and my skates are knives, sharper than a falcon’s talon. They glide like otters through water and carve the ice into a lesioned hide. Then I see her. Smiling honey, she makes her entrance. One dainty step onto the rink, one liquid stroke in front of the other, and then she’s gliding like rain down a window flashing in the sun. A gaggle of girls trail behind her. I drift by, keeping a safe distance. Their heads turn as I pass. I pretend not to notice and act as if I’m singing to the pop tune that’s cracking through the speakers, the one I hear every single morning in the school hallways when I’m trying to read. I mouth the words like I mouth the hymns in church. An explosion of laughter makes me turn and she yells, “spaghetti legs!” In the distance their voices pierce like metal blades on cement. When they reach the far end of the rink I give the secret order to my little brother. He nods and breezes by, pumping his little legs side to side. When he’s close, inches away, he coasts and bends his knees and kicks. Her gazelle legs trip heavenward. She falls hard. A bundle of denim and black curls glides to a stop leaving a smooth trail. As the music booms she
struggles to rise and furtively sits. The ice shavings on her lashes look like dandruff. I want to flick them off. She coughs like a kitten and spits out a tooth spraying red confetti onto the ice. I should’ve felt bad. Five years later I saw her again when I became an only child, when a headline in the town paper read, “Valedictorian of Grade Eight Class Struck by Van.” In a rumpled dress I wilt by the closed coffin covered in a wreath of white roses. In the middle stands a photo in a silver frame of a carefree boy, a smiling teenager with his first bout of acne. I inhale the honey stench of lilies and then she enters. She eyes the room, spots me, and wends her way through the crowd. Hugging my limp body she says, “so sorry.”
Natural Disasters and Other Things We Don’t Think Of When We Say Spring Stephanie Tom Spring, a word that you know / to be full of life and death / but something that you also know is only a beginning / here is where you take the trowel and go outside to plant tulips / and bury the squirrel you found under the snow / spring is also hurricane season – you know a bit about natural disasters and its aftermaths / that’s why you want to be a meteorologist / and learn to read seismograms the way you take your pulse / and learn to read the signs. The perfect time to plant seeds / is when it has only started to get warm out / and you dig the holes just far apart for roots to grow / roots to hold it down when you sow seeds in storm / lest they skim the surface of the ground like migrating birds over mountain peaks / river over ruins / you don’t want roots that never hold / the way that cliffs are hinged on earth / and birds are forever fleeting / for once you want life without the half-life of tragedy. The only thing I know about theater / is that half of the time it ends in tragedy / and the other half of the time it ends in comedy / but there really is not much of a distinction sometimes / for example: the angels laughed when Don Giovanni was dragged to hell / but angels have not yet been told how to lie properly either / and everyone knows that you can’t throw stones / when you live in a glass house / that could just as easily be shattered by a hurricane / by cracks that look like seismograms. When spring does come, stepping into sky, you run / the way a river runs right over a cliff and falls towards earth / birds screaming as they jump into the sky / flitting fast like the seeds that were scattered by your hand into the storm / your heartbeat making your chest convulse but all you can hear is the rising crescendo of Don Giovanni / and someone like the sky calling your name.
Her Name Courtney LeBlanc Her name is tired. Over-worked. Underpaid. Her name is single mom and the child support check is late again. Her name is college student, college professor, advisor, administrator, adjunct. Her name is art and science and astronaut. Her name is athlete and dancer and wife and mother and daughter and survivor. Her name is senator, justice, president. Her name is victor, not victim. Her name is strength and power and never backing down.
Butterfly Elizabeth Gibson There are frothy white icing and sugar hearts on cakes and red roses in a boy’s hand as he heads home from college and some corny movie in our residence later. A song about Paris plays on repeat and glitter gleams. All this is nice. But my love is not pink and sparkly. It does not take the shape of love hearts or red roses. It is hard to describe except that it consumes me, fills me, makes the inky sky beautiful even without stars. My love is as strong today as any other day. Romance and cupids can’t affect it. It burns always, a blue fire. And things like your laugh – oh, that laugh – or your affection can make that blue magma rise and flood me like a waterfall, crashing, like a galaxy strewn through my soul. Mon amour. Comme un feu. Comme l’océan. The song has petered out but my heart keeps singing, You, I love you, I love you, on every day of the year.
Rebuilding Courtney LeBlanc After you left I tore down the walls, pulled back the curtains and let the sun stream in as I cried so hard I hyperventilated. After you left I went on a diet of coffee and red wine and my hip bones became handlebars I hung onto for dear life. After you left I went to the dog park every day because it is nearly impossible to cry at a dog park. After you left I closed doors on rooms and lived in half the house. After you left I began to stitch my heart back together, pushing the blood and flesh and tears inside. After you left I began to rebuild my life, brick by painful brick.
True American Olivia Hu stuff it down your throat. pinyin and zi ci, let the words slide. wash them down with jiuniang till tongue parched bitter. rearrange tables until opulence follows the wind, away. absence decorates air like dim sum takeout, suspension. feng shui lost between mixed teacup rims, cut bamboo flesh till they bleed purple. throw away your hong bao, put your culture to flames- gone goes the red, and gone goes you.
April Fool Courtney LeBlanc I’m leaving, you said and gestured to the suitcase sitting by the door. It was April, the daffodils and tulips coloring the dark ground, the first to welcome spring. I didn’t ask why, I already knew and your bags were, quite literally packed. The next day I discovered the emptied bank account. You came back a week later to get the rest of your things. I stood watching, not trusting you to be civil – you once shredded an ex’s clothes in anger. You sneered at the lilacs that sat on the table, their sweet smell clotting the air. I suppose he gave you those. I said nothing. That night I walked along the darkened road near my house, I picked the lilacs that edged the property. I put them in every room, their aroma chasing away any trace of you.
Turbulence Sumaya Makhdoom hum drumming propellers slice crisp, clear skies gently rise into a blue dipped abyss a missile, towards Lahore; on target. Some passengers, enjoy the steam whirling from their chai cups others mutely endure, each quip and shudder, the jarring unease building as turbulence grows thinking up unlikely scenes in an otherwise calm;composed turn towards the south this migratory bird seats hardly 15, but the nerves of this quiet woman shatter, scatter as the plane soars, once more, burying her nose in the latest celebrity magazines ignores the lit seat belt sign, the knees of the father of two behind her, who reminds her, how lucky singlehood really is at 60 but the plane lurches, descends downward, her eyes rush towards the emergency exit
lever cradled by a naughty kid in a onesie, seriously?- she thinks and blinks unbelievingly parenthood can be whack; not for her, alas.
Broken Quiet Courtney LeBlanc Did I snore? you asked. My wife said I do. I looked at you bewildered, chased a tomato around my plate and wondered why I’d agreed to lunch with a man who hadn’t shared my bed in a dog-year. I shrugged, non-committal. You continued talking, asking far too many questions as I slid quieter into my meal. If only I’d ordered wine – that might have made this slip and slide down better-forgotten lane a little more palatable. We said goodbye and I hoped to never see you again. A day later I remembered the sawing of your snore, the way you held your breath before expelling the air violently, the way I lay awake wondering if you’d breath again. I remember the broken quiet of the night you left. I remember sleeping with the widows open, the night’s melody floating in, singing me to sleep.
Always the North Wind Carl Boon Those who whispered in the village knew, and dumped their tea against the granite sea-wall. The next day they circled her grave, some with flowers, some with stories of her as a child—how she outswam her brothers, how she was the first to bring coffee to her father’s friends. No one should remember her yellow and slumped, they said, breathing weakly, blood in her throat. That was the summer of wind and little fruit, aftermaths of war, despair in the villages higher up the mountain. Mornings I walked the white soil shoreline, my shadow weaving among piles of mussel shells. Her father never wavered: it was poison, something brought by the north wind that made her fall. But still the villagers whispered: the sea is clean; it was the way she walked, the way she held her skirt as she went for bread, her mouth a sliver of pink lipstick. Rumors of a boy she loved, rumors mingling with facts. No one here has ever been killed by mussels. The sea brings the wind, the wind cools the soil, and we sleep. Her father’s
desperate hour shames his shame. The quiet ones move on. If she were pregnant, no one knew. I had seen her weeks before on the Devil’s Rocks reading, the north wind patrolling her hair. Her posture was a pleading one, that she might be carried away and never return, a girl in her novel, a girl whose words might carry past the mountain. Seeing her, I thought of youth’s sea of needs and impossibilities.
Untitled David Atchkinson i dont sleep anymore, i never dream. i close my eyes only to be awoken by a scream, a scream so familiar yet so distant that i feel it rushing through my bones and crawling through my fucking skin. maybe, just maybe, things would be okay if i ever loved myself. if i were ever okay with the way i laughed or the way i smiled or the way i walked, but instead my life revolved around those heavenly moments when you talked. As unhealthy as it seemed, it was all about you, and for the first time in my fucking life I felt as if i knew what to do. It is all gone now, disarray and cluttered, but as my heart remains shattered I drip my blood for no one but her.
Now Sinks the Storm Clio Velentza The storm-battered ground smells like a wound. The black earth is beautiful. The way it rises and falls like breathing. The way it eats us up. And spits out love and bones. And spits out love and bones and rust and root and myth and war and. The beloved dead of long ago. Stop staring out of the window and make your bed. There isn’t much time. I’ve packed your lunch. To stay: in the periphery, eat nothing but rain-steam, soak in spilled chlorophyll. To crawl into tree cavities festering with half-blind things, to stick your fingers out through the cracks for the brittle bird claws. To reverently present the earth with your skin. To be kissed to be gently licked to be bitten to be eaten to be swallowed by the dark. Take those headphones off. You look beautiful. The black earth is beautiful. I never noticed how long your hair has grown. The way it rises and falls. No, tie your scarf like this, like this. It’s warmer. Like breathing. Don’t be nervous. You’re not? I am. I only got you. The house will be so empty. So big and empty. This is storm country, there’s no peace. I should get a dog now. You pick her name. One of your funny book names. No, button up. Storm country, September morning. Before you reach the airport it will be pouring again. To go: to wish for here to come along. For the old snaggletoothed cemetery to follow the flesh promise of your people. For the mint-green kitchen paint with the record of your awkward height to peel off and coil around you. Carry the broken stone, the chipped paint flakes, carry the Sunday afternoons and snow angels, carry the one, it doesn’t fit, it goes elsewhere, here, come along, all the way. Carry your lunch but tell your father to carry the suitcase. Don’t let him slack off and get you pizza all the time. Eat your greens. Send me photos. It’s going to be so sunny over there. But I’ll get a dog, a big one so I can hear her walk, she’ll be your dog. You can show off her pictures in the new school, everyone loves a puppy.
The black earth is beautiful the way it hangs onto you the way the mud sucks your shoe in and it’s a nightmare walk you’re picking wet snowdrops picking bluebird eggshells you’re picking boys picking girls picking fights. Pluck foliage from your hair pluck grass from between your thighs. Cut you off, there you go. And I’ll keep watching—. Oh, the car’s here. Come on, come on. Not drifting but shifting, as clouds do. And I’ll keep watching our bird feeder. Born in the storm country during the fast pause in between, to a good woman and a clear sky. I’ll let you know as soon as they fly back.
● Autumn Chant (font on cover) ○ Roland Hüse ● Haley Chung- This Little Place Called Earth ○ Haley is a sophomore from the non-snowy part of Canada. Currently, her writing projects include co-founding her school's first literary magazine and finishing a manuscript about sinophone teens learning to love their own culture. Besides writing, Haley has an obsession for French culture/history, Sylvia Plath, and gingerbread cookies. ● Last Summer- Nicholas Gustavson ○ Nicholas Gustavson's fiction recently won an honorable mention in Exposition Review's inaugural flash fiction contest, the grand prize in Easy Reader Magazine's 2015 writing contest, and third place in a recent Writer's Digest fiction contest. He received a BA in English from UCLA and he lives in Redondo Beach with his wife, two children, and two Westies. Visit him at www.nicholasgustavson.com. ● Ana Prundaru - The Way Home ○ Ana Prundaru is a Romanian transplant in Switzerland. Her art and writing appear in 3:AM, Gravel, DIAGRAM, Gingerbread House and others. She is the author of three chapbooks: React by GaussPDF, Free Dirt is Yours by SOd Press and Unstable Tales, forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. ● Yen Rong Wong- Summer
○ Yen-Rong is currently slaving through her Honours thesis and lamenting the ridiculous number of split ends in her hair. She loves tea, her cello, and her cat. You can find her on Twitter (http://twitter.com/inexorablist) or on her website (http://www.inexorablist.com). Carl Boon - Always the North Wind ○ Carl Boon lives and works in Izmir, Turkey. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently Two Thirds North, Jet Fuel Review, Blast Furnace, and Sunset Liminal. Anastasia McEwan - Red Confetti ○ Anastasia McEwen is an English and Fine Art Graduate from the University of Guelph, where she is currently working the Creative Writing Certificate program. She was a winner of the Guelph Mercury Christmas Story contest in 2014 and 2015, and read for the Fringe at the Eden Mills Writing Festival in 2014. She lives in Fergus, Ontario where she is working on her novel. Clio Velentza - Now Sinks the Storm ○ Clio Velentza lives in Athens, Greece. She's a winner of Queen’s Ferry Press’ Best Small Fictions 2016 and was anthologized in "Rethinking The Plot" (Kingston University Press, 2016). Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in several literary journals, including "Whiskey Paper", "Literary Orphans", "Atlas & Alice", "The Vignette Review" and “Wigleaf". Find her at @clio_v. Olivia Hu- True American
○ Olivia Hu is fifteen years old, a lover of cats, and weaves words on her loom. She is forthcoming or has been published on Eunoia Review, Brouhaha Magazine and Cyberriot, among others, and recently won a national Canadian writing competition in the prose category. You can find her wandering the café-scented streets of downtown dreamy-eyed or finding solace in her safe haven, a bookstore. ● Julia Drzewiecka ○ I like pictures, rock music and biology. I hate pleasantries, *quirky* people and rhetorical questions. Writing that in third person sounded awkward so.. Sorry if that's a hassle. Thanks! ● Courtney LeBlanc ○ Courtney LeBlanc loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Her chapbook, All in the Family, is forthcoming from Bottlecap Press. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Connections, Welter, Plum Biscuit, Pudding Magazine, The Legendary, Germ Magazine, District Lines, Slab, Wicked Banshee, The Door is a Jar, and others. Read her blog at www.wordperv.com, follow her on twitter: www.twitter.com/wordperv, or find her on facebook: www.facebook.com/poetry.CourtneyLeBlanc. ● Jacqueline He - Thrift Shop Girls ○ Jacqueline is a rising junior at the Harker School in San Jose, California. She is the Editor in Chief and co-founder of the Icarus Anthology (icarusanthology.weebly.com), as well as a staff member of her school's research journal, the Harker Horizon. Besides reading and
writing, Jacqueline likes to spend her time petting cats and sampling milk tea ● Elizabeth Gibson - Valentine’s Day and Butterfly ○ Elizabeth Gibson studies French and Spanish at the University of Manchester. She has work published or forthcoming in The Cadaverine, London Journal of Fiction, Far Off Places, The Mancunion, Octavius, Severine and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Since 2012 she has been a Digital Reporter for Manchester Literature Festival. She tweets at @Grizonne and blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.co.uk. ● Sumaya Makhdoom - Turbulence ○ Sumaya Zainab Makhdoom is a 25-year-old Pakistani Poet, currently pursuing an MPhil in English Degree at FCCU, Lahore. Her interest includes, food, writing and philosophy, and is also convinced by the merits of menial work, with no special value. She aspires to discover more poetry as she goes along. Previously, her work has appeared in The Maya Tree, Papercuts Vol 12 and Travel Poetry Magazine. ● Stephanie Tom - Natural Disasters ○ Stephanie Tom is a high school student who lives in New York and likes to scour the internet for contemporary poetry. She is an editor for her school newspaper, an assistant editor for her school literary magazine, and has more works in progress than she can handle at the moment.