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AIRPORT ROAD NYU Abu Dhabi 19 Washington Square North New York, NY 10003 Send inquiries to: Publisher Airport Road NYU Abu Dhabi PO Box 903 New York, NY 10276-0903 ISSN 2312-1777 © 2016 Electra Street

Front Cover Image: Untitled, Qiyun Zhang Back Cover Image: Crossing, Sabrina Zhao


Shamma Al Bastaki Shenuka Corea Mariam ElZoghbi Gabrielle Flores Alice Huang Lucius Lambert Tzy Jiun Tan


Viswanath Chandrasekar


Sachi Leith


Deborah Lindsay Williams


Cyrus R. K. Patell

Issue 04 Fall 2016

CONTENTS POETRY Lina Amjad Elmusa, Airports 10

Angelica Castro-Mendoza, Thoughts from the Bus Ride Home 13

Garreth Chan, Skin-Wearers in Grand Central 16

Ayah Rashid, The CREATE LITERARY EQUALITY Manifesto 18 Shamma Al Bastaki, Poetry Stuck in my Windpipe 20 Amna Alharmoodi, Strawberry 24

Khadeeja Farooqui, astor place, ny 28 Khadeeja Farooqui, city screaming 31 Thirangie Jayatilake, Urumuri (Light That Never Ends) 34

Sabrina Ruobing Zhao, Haiku 37

Lina Elmusa, Active Participant 48 Theodore Tenev, Restlessness 52 Louise Gerodias, Haiku 54

Alice Huang, To Do List 57

Garreth Chan, Eyelashes 68 Nadeen Alalami, Claim 70

Khadeeja Farooqui, on loss 78 Ayah Rashid, Sitting Room 84

Tzy Juin Tan, Haikus: 1, 2, 4 86

Alice Huang, Juicy, Colorful, Even Sweet 88

Dr. Souad Al Sabah, Veto on the Feminine Noon [‫النسوة‬

‫]فيتو عيل نون‬

(English translation by Shamma Al Bastaki) 92 Garreth Chan, Origami 97

Ayah Rashid, [Catching Feelings] 110 Khadeeja Farooqui, skype call 113


Ankita Sadarjoshi, Untitled 116

Muhammad Shehryar Hamid, 1st 118

Laura Waltje, I Am a Box in the Basement Woman 119 Ankita Sadarjoshi, afternoon poem 123 G Jansen, Falling, Slowly 125

Alice Huang, The Secret Lover 127

Pramugdha Maheswari, linguistic aphasia 129 PROSE Viviana Kawas, Tiempos Ajenos: A Short Series of Images 39

Rosy Tahan, Pas de Deux 58 Ankita Sadarjoshi, Girl 66

Angelica Castro-Mendoza, Stranger 81 Merima Sabanovic, Homo Erectus: Thus Walked Zarathustra 99

Adrienne Chang, I Laugh the Only Way I Know How 105 Dominique Joaquin, Sent 131 VISUAL Qiyun Zhang, Untitled (Front Cover) Yunbo Wu, Berlin 7 9

Yunbo Wu, Berlin 8 12

Kamiliya Issaliyeva, Collage 3 14 Jiawei Li, Self-Portrait 15

Alyssa Yu, Strangers on a Jaipuri Bus 17 Ng Meizhi, Rushing 23

Alyssa Yu, Amer Mahouts & Elephants 27

Anastasiia Zubareva, Fog on the Water, Vyatka River (Russia) 30 Rosy Tahan, Faith 33

Anastasiia Zubareva, Sunrise, Adam’s Peak (Sri Lanka) 36


Flavia Cereceda, Blue Boat 38

Sugandha Shukla, Fujairah Across the Sea 47 Merima Sabanovic, We Are One Body 50

Shamma Al Bastaki, Writes with a Knife 51 Kamilya Issaliyeva, Collage 2 55

Evgenija Filova, Divided Skies 1 56 Alyssa Yu, Hierarchical Reversal 65

Alyssa Yu, A Pisces & Two Decades in Oman 67 Chukwuyem Onyibe, Nikki’s Tragedy 69 Alyssa Yu, Peeping Lina 76

Evgenija Filova, Divided Skies 2 77 Ethan Lee, Mosque Lantern 80

Ethan Lee, A Man and a Camel 82

Matilda Mahne, Base Fesu 1:18 83 Ethan Lee, The Old Is Beautiful 87 Ethan Lee, Fresh Dates 89

Alyssa Yu, Postcards from Agra 90

Merima Sabanovic, She Is a Tree of Life to Them 91 Nisala Saheed, Fighter Fish 96 Guo Lu, Untitled 98

Anastasiia Zubareva, Autumn, Kirov (Russia) 104 Ethan Lee, Rust 109

Flavia Cereceda, Jewish Door in Shanghai 111 Evgenija Filova, Divided 112

Evgenija Filova, Divided Skies 3 114 Evgenija Filova, Divided Skies 4 115 Alyssa Yu, Garlands 117

Alyssa Yu, A Door Adorned 121 Evgenija Filova, Untitled 122 Alice Huang, Fixed 124

Alyssa Yu, Man, Mannequin 130

Chukwuyem Onyibe, House Flower 135 Sabrina Zhao, Crossing (Back Cover)


INTRODUCTION Cosmopolitanism is one of the conceptual foundations for NYU Abu

Dhabi, and it is an idea that animates the creative work presented in this issue of Airport Road.

Originating in the concept of the “world citizen” and conceived in

contradistinction to nationalism, cosmopolitanism has more recently been understood by political and cultural theorists as an alternative to universalism and multiculturalism, ideas upon which it draws but with which it also takes issue. Universalist thinkers want to make

generalizations about all human beings and therefore search for common denominators, seeking to minimize the conceptual impact of difference. Universalists are interested, in other words, primarily in the ways in

which we all might be said to be the same. Multiculturalists, however,

understand difference to be an abiding fact of human social life and even crucial to human conceptions of identity. They worry that universalist

thinking imposes sameness over important differences, thereby doing

violence to ways of being in the world that lie outside the experience of

whatever culture happens to be dominant in a particular time and place. Cosmopolitan thinkers are interested in the interplay of sameness and difference, understanding these two aspects of human existence to

be equally important. Unlike the universalist, the cosmopolitan sees

difference as an opportunity to be embraced rather than a problem to be solved. At the same time, although the cosmopolitan thinker thus

shares the multiculturalist’s appreciation for diversity, the cosmopolitan is wary of multiculturalism’s tendency to over-emphasize pluralism, which sometimes leads to a reluctance to make judgments across cultural

boundaries. Multiculturalism, in other words, can sometimes lead to moral relativism, a position that the cosmopolitan rejects.


Cosmopolitans think that some ideas are better than others: they reject practices like slavery, genocide, misogyny, and racism as unworthy of

humanity at its best. And they are committed to the belief that we can

only discern which ideas are worthy of preservation by constantly testing them through conversations with other people, serious conversations

in which the participants are willing to have their minds changed about some of their cherished practices and beliefs. To help them engage in these difficult conversations, particularly when encountering people whose views are radically different from their own, cosmopolitans

cultivate the ability to empathize, while simultaneously retaining the

ability to maintain the sense of distance that is a prerequisite for rational judgment.

In this endeavor, works of the creative imagination can be crucial tools. Think about what happens when you’re reading a novel and become truly immersed in it. You are clearing your mind and letting another

consciousness—the consciousness of the author or, if you prefer, of the

text—take over your own. You are making a connection to another mind and, thus, to another way of being in the world. Isn’t it possible that it is exactly this sense of connection that motivates writers to write and

readers to read, that motivates visual artists to create images and viewers to gaze at them?

The texts and images that you will encounter in the pages of Airport Road 04 attempt to create this kind of cosmopolitan connection, to create

a productive experience of difference and otherness in ways that are

moving and perhaps disturbing, but always engaging. In these pages,

you will encounter joy and grief, beauty and darkness, loss and longing,

foreboding and hope. Through their work, these writers and artists extend a hand across a chasm of difference. Take it, and make the leap.

— Cyrus R. K. Patell

Berlin 7 Yunbo Wu



Lina Amjad Elmusa Airports have a distinct type of sadness,

Leaving an airport for an adventure generates a specific type of excitement,

One that is filled with anxiety and resentment.

It’s a reminder of all the airports you once left, All the background music you once ignored,

All the beautiful times with exceptional people, that have ended.

It’s an exciting experience.

You’re going out there to kick the world in the ass. To drink and dance,

engage in different cultures— To smoke and laugh,

To be someone else… Perhaps a better self? There you have it, Stories to tell.

Now you’re a storyteller.

Remember that time at that airport when you fucked up? Remember that time when you met that girl? More stories to tell.

Now you’re a storyteller and I’m a writer. Now you’re there, you’re in that country, remember?

You have this one extra stamp on your passport.

Remember when we got shit-faced with that guy? Now you’re a storyteller.

Remember that time I was broke for months because of that trip? Totally worth it.


Now it’s over.

You’re back at it.

4 hours, different continents. 3 hours, you read that book. 2 hours, you passed out.

1 hour, you wrote that poem. Now you’re a storyteller.

People surround you from all directions, Coming and going,

Busy with their lives.

But now you’re an existentialist.

It took you 4 hours to be in a different continents ... What is this world?

In 45 minutes you reached your favorite destination … What is this world?

Oh that was one hell of an experience, How will you move on?

Now you’re an existentialist.

But one thought, just one thought always gets to me.

I am never going to be the person I was in that country.

You are never going to be the person you were with me, in that country.

Will our lips ever touch the same way again? No, they won’t. We won’t.

Because we’re now at the airport, and you’re a different you. I am a different me.

But we have more stories to tell, and now we’re storytellers.


Berlin 8 Yunbo Wu


Thoughts from the Bus Ride Home Angelica Castro-Mendoza See that rectangle

With its lit up boxes?

It sits atop

that conglomerated perforated mass

with a made up name

cut and glued to form

the shapes we call homes

on a pirouetting sphere, but

yours is the most beautiful



Collage 3 Kamilya Issaliyeva


Self-Portrait Jiawei Li


Skin-Wearers in Grand Central Garreth Chan

In the mirror fog

I am a leather tent,

stripped to the skin,

held up by a skeleton of brittle resolve.

I am a skin-wearer, naked to the bone

until I take out my light-grey suit, a freshly pressed white shirt;

the very same skin that rubs against other skin-wearers

every morning in the terminal.


Strangers on a Jaipuri Bus Alyssa Yu



Scholarly writing creates literary inequality. It must stop with Millennials

and Generation Z. Progressive thoughts are

currently coveted and studied by the privileged few. Creative

outlets are better at reaching untapped minds with the power to change our sick society.

Radical concepts produced in literature are selfishly guarded by obscure language, and hoarded by snobby scholars whose degrees make them entitled, so-called intellectuals.

There are a million less alienating ways to express an intelligent thought. Ideas conveyed through scholarly writing keep greedy politicians in

power, the middle class dumb, and the youth going into

debt trying to understand these philosophies. Everyone


be a scholar if all future groundbreaking theories were written like science fiction or poetry.The entire world should be a university classroom, with even the most


people as students. When did sharing, explaining, and discovering knowledge

become confined to a physical space? There are consequences to hiding our

brilliant ideas in the pockets of vague language and tucking it away for only a few to find.


Intellectual ideas will cease to exist.

We will never make technological advances. People with the best ideas will be silenced because they will think that the only way to be heard and respected is to write like:

Old Dead White Men Everyone is intelligent and deserves access, linguistically and materially, to literature written by anyone—from the most celebrated scholar to the young girl scratching poetry in the dirt with a stick. Revolutionary ideas will reach the people that need it the most.

Literary equality means:


Political & Social


Stop writing “scholarly” work and convey ideas Creatively. This is the only way to save the world.


Poetry Stuck in my Windpipe Shamma Al Bastaki

I have tried

To cough it out,

Tried desperately

To clear my throat Of this poetry That lingers

In these vocal cords of mine. I long to straighten back my spine, For I dislike being hunched. Crouched down,

bowing to the ground,

Coughing out a cacophony of sound, Rhythmic rumbles that escape The depths of my chest,

So musical you may mistake them For laughter,

But not musical enough To be poetry.

It is the poetry

That makes me hoarse, And of course,

the rhyme that makes my throat so coarse, And the whirling, twirling verse

That scrape the walls of my windpipe. They call it a windpipe,


But really, I feel no wind. Only fire.

Burning, blazing flames of words, Yearning fervently to feel

The coolness of my tongue. My tongue,

My patient tongue,

Once not so long ago a lively dance floor. Melodies would emanate like dawn Every time

I opened my mouth, Every time

I turned my spittle into ink. Dawn, and dawn, and dawn, anew. Words waltzing with one another On the tip of my lips,

Tangoing to the trill of time, Foxtrotting and tapping

To the tune of my meagre existence. These woven words once danced Like there was no dusk, And now dusk

Is all they know.

No matter how widely I open my round mouth— The sun of my throat—

The light is never strong enough. The light is never strong enough To lead my poetry out.

It is not that my words don’t dance in the darkness.


My words,

Though blind, Do dance.

Pirouetting silhouettes Waiting to be known.

Shimmying shadows of verse Longing to be shown. Swaying all alone. Gliding, sliding, All alone.

But dancing, still dancing, In the scarcity of light,

In the starlessness of night, In the ebony captivity

Of my abraded windpipe. Dancing, still dancing.

Invisible, yet no less alive. Otherwise,

Mark my words,

I would not be coughing this loud.


Rushing Ng Meizhi



Amna Alharmoodi I had a certain allergy to red. A gift once. A cream and soap set, a sweet red That was as close as I could get To dangerous red.

On a summer day,

The murmur of company on the porch outside A bowl of red inside screamed at me; I placed one obediently on my palm

When others offered the poisonous red, I’d turn away in distaste. Declaring

My distaste;

Not my inability to consume. I bring it up to my pinks and whites A hesitation,


Then a detonation, of red. It stings.

It leaves a trail of fire as it goes down. Its remains still in my hands, Blood seeping onto skin. Tainting it—

Painting it red.


I dispose of the evidence. Backdoor exit

I run in the heat. The heat will enflame my cheeks Hide all traces.

I do not want her to see me The ugliness

The red inside of me Burning.

She told me not to: Beware,

be wary of red. I see her

My vision blurs;

I begin to see red And her face.

Still not in full view

I make the last possible effort To run.

But she sees me too soon

And goes inside wordlessly, Her back beckons me Into the house,

Into her chamber. She faces me with palms outstretched Reaching

Rubbing relief onto my pain.


That doesn’t invite the tear.

It’s the bit of red still tingling, Each time she presses.

I do not want to meet her gaze, Not even a handshake. Avoiding.

The disappointment

That wasn’t in her eyes. I don’t understand;

I did something wrong; A bad deed,

Receives a gift of a bad consequence. But I did not receive any presents, Just hugs and kisses.


Amer Mahouts & Elephants Alyssu Yu


astor place, ny

Khadeeja Farooqui astor place, ny

face so numb,—23

new umbrella, broken paper maps, wet

outside walgreens, spread

across the road, mcdonald’s

two dollar fries, it’s going to be okay.

i am here. i am here. i am here.

astor place, ny

korean karaoke bars, fun

subway to penn station, no? outside ray’s, waiting

uber to times square, waffles subway to penn station, no. drenched in fog, flatiron.

we are here. we are here. we are here.

astor place, ny closer to, fdr

east river bank, charades what if you come, happy

favorite tapioca place, closed cooper square, screaming let’s go to veselka, 4 a.m.


are you here. are you here. are you here.

astor place, ny

i keep coming back

the first time i got lost and couldn’t tell how to get to


astor place, ny now

toast and strawberries

bagels and creamcheese

paving way to 19th and 3rd, home.

i am here. i am here. i am here. new york city, 13 June 2016


Fog on the Water, Vyatka River (Russia) Anastasiia Zubareva


city screaming

Khadeeja Farooqui sneeze. sneeze. cough. cough. sneezing. cough. coughing. sneeze.

city screaming. melons. water. sour. sour watermelons. melons souring.

melons on the tongue. tongues. melons under the tongue. tongues. 56th between 6th and 7th. in new york city. city screaming. union square park in new york city. city screaming. mattresses. on your floor. mattresses.

on my floor. in new york city. city screaming. 4 a.m. texts from airplanes across the world. security gates. gating. securing. locking. opposite

sides of the world. lock. locking. locked. city screaming. texts distancing. planes distancing. 10 p.m. in tenderloin. 9 a.m. in manhattan. all the

ams/pms in pakistan. clocks. clocking. calendars. locking. city screaming. do you wanna share this? that? chai? cake? samosa? life? how did

you know? i did. tennis. tennis racquets. racqueting. words forgotten

in cars in death spinning forests, between coffee-stained couch pillows not comforting. not comforting? discomforting. city screaming. words

found on 5th ave. 5th ave in new york city. city screaming. blue sheets

with red stripes and white lines. bedsheets loved. bodies loved between bedsheets. bodies loved between ink stained pillows. bodies loved.

bodies loving. bodies bodying. body. bodies blacking, bodies holing. city screaming. black. your blue or mine? you know my blues. and my reds, violets, blacks. your blues blueing, my blacks blacking. city screaming. birthday candles. in san francisco. city screaming. airport shuttles

booked, cancelled, missed, paid for in dimes collected from under bunk beds. bunk beds on top of hills in cities like abbotabad. city screaming. i do not go to abbotabad anymore. neither do you. nor my mother. city

screaming. stolen blankets. forgotten chargers plugged into paling walls

closing in. tissue papers. ink blotted tissue papers. letters lost in america.

thrown in red mailboxes. on streets named after white men. like alexander street. city screaming. two wooden chairs overlooking brooklyn.


wordsurdu-ing, phrases phrasing between arabic andspanish. and all the languages you never heard me speak. i spoke. i am still speaking. listen.

city screaming. black jacket, red pants, red jacket, black shorts. stories of my friends in your car. stories of your friends on my floor. city screaming.

madame. madame. i miss madame. day and night. and then some more. and more. in cities we have never been to. city screaming. toothpaste.

voss. disposable cups. disposable bodies. bodies on mattresses. bodies

between pillows. bodies between bedsheets. city screaming. you seeping

between eyelashes and prayer mats. in cities you have never been to. city screaming. you. in new york city. not telling, not telling. i am listening. still. city screaming. pillows crying. yogurt drenched meat bones. spice laced fingers. fingers on hairends. eyes lying. city screaming. fireworks and

soup bowls. sky gleaming, golden gate gloating in all its glory. i am alone,

so alone, amongst piles and piles of people. city screaming. grey hoodies, black jeans. city screaming. bestofyou. worstofyou. ichooseboth. city

screaming. bagels in the city. city screaming. and you hate bagels. city screaming. kidhar ho? kuchsunao. kuchpocho. kuch bolo. kuchgao. kuchyaadkero. i know you won’t. city screaming.

abu dhabi, 5 November 2016


Faith Rosy Tahan


Urumuri Rutazima (Light That Never Ends) Thirangie Jayatilake

Based on the Rwandan Genocide “Kwibuka” = “Remember”


Urumuri rutazima. We ignite that candle. Every year. April. Never let it fade. Because hope is stronger than darkness. Because light is where we move to. A 100 days. A million graves. Because I watched my father, my mother, my sister, my brother, my child walk out of the door for the last time. Because I ran to find shelter but they slipped through my hands. Dragged. Because I don’t know where their bodies lie. Or what torture they had to embrace before death took its claim on them. 1994. Every year since. It began with grief. With terror. You survived. With tears running down, I watch you re-enter. Re-enter memories that haunt you. The trance where you think you are being hunted. Still. It has seeped beneath your soul where the pain and the terror engulf you even in the present. A walk to remember. Our walk is towards the candle. To make it glow stronger with each year. Join me. Kwibuka.* So that every year we remember. Remember to make sure that we find no divides. Remember so that our children will not see a time where race and ethnicity will divide— where divide will conquer and result in massacre. Massacre of the very essence of being human. Where we forget that beneath our skin and race and ethnicity, we are not different. Remember so that we don’t have to watch souls of familiar and comfort taken away and thrown into pieces, buried under earth where we cannot find them. Remember so that we don’t have to tell anyone that we regret. Regret being born into a time of violence. Regret to be born to watch people suffer in vain for no good reason. So that Never Again will remain etched in history forever.


Sunrise, Adam’s Peak (Sri Lanka) Anastasiia Zubareva 36


Sabrina Ruobing Zhao ***

Clay lid and water—

Bubbles rushing out, chanting SLURP! porridge bowl clean ***

Dumplings fresh nearby

Shrimp stuffingsstretching to me Destiny wrong night


Blue Boat Flavia Cereceda


Tiempos Ajenos: A Short Series of Images Viviana Kawas

Lejos—Antes y Después El escritor

The writer

The writer

con su pluma

with his pen

with his/her pen

de leer.


se corta la lengua cuts his tongue cuando terminas

when you are done

it cuts the tongue when finished of reading.

Se resuelve: El escritor cuts his tongue con su pluma when done con la lectura. *** Waking Up

(Chubascos) I see my own breath during a rainy day in the fall and think about a child

freezing. He does not have a face and barely has a body, but continues to breathe—I can tell by the slow rise and fall of his bare chest. He is from some foreign and exotic region of the world, probably visited by only a

few, like missionaries a very long time ago or people with bucket lists. I

wake up and realize I have been imagining the fall day, and the grainy fall breath against the white air, and the breathing of the small child whom I

thought was freezing. I feel relieved and think about what I want to eat for breakfast and what I’m going to wear—my iPhone says it’s going to rain all day.



(Chubascos) A girl sits on my lap during the morning of the 17th of November of 1990 and tells me she wants a banana right before she starts crying, right

before she jumps up and down and threatens to call her mother, right

before she tells me how ugly and mean I am without giving me a second

look, right before hitting me on the face and giving me a cut on my lower lip, right before I decide that I am not going to say a word in response. But that is all after she puts her lunch box in a corner of the room and

twirls so that she, and others, can admire the spinning of her red dress. Circles and circles of imminent beauty and innocent evenings. She

whispers to someone (another child, or perhaps a more adequate adult) how her mother got her this dress, how bananas are her favorite fruit

(and yellow her favorite color) but mommy forgot to buy more yesterday after they ran out in the morning, which meant she could not have them

with her morning cereal. Not a great turn out, she did not expect to have a banana-less cereal the morning after. The girl’s mother also forgot her favorite color before buying the red dress. The girl’s light brown eyes,

almost green under the coat of tears, inject me with expectation and I can tell she has run out of ways to express her dissatisfaction. Maybe she is realizing she hurt me and is having a second thought. She leaps down

from my lap, done with the idea of her mother and her cravings and her

morning desolations to return to perform circles of joy with her red dress. I feel the faint taste of banana across my lips and tongue and teeth as I watch her, the other children buzzing with laughter and secrets for one another, not really paying attention to the girl. I feel bitter yet tolerant;

overall adequate and not entirely demoralized for the day’s labor. On the bright side, I think, maybe later today there’s going to be an ice-cream party or hot chocolate with marshmallows during story/movie time.


Maybe then she will be quiet, or be happy for a couple hours before

realizing, under the guidance of her youthful standards, that the ice cream or hot chocolate or marshmallows are not a banana (or her mother). But I hope she does not get to have a banana any time soon. They’re running out in the world, and plus: that would be bad parenting.

*** The Old Man is Asleep There was no other alternative but to put the angel to sleep because he had forgotten how to die himself, and not even the wise people in town could tell the owners of the angel how to give him back the light with

which he had once traversed the earth. The old man was still asleep and the old barn was getting colder as the brief autumn morphed into tiny

snowflakes, which made their way into the wooden house and came to

rest on his wings. The wings started off bare and broken, looking rotten towards the end of the summer when the angel had just arrived, but

covered in white after the first few weeks of winter, as though this was its natural coat.

Worn, the angel slept while people forgot he was there. Even his owners receded into their home, letting time drag them along the surfaces of

failed theories on how to make it stop snowing over the barn. It was an

unnatural phenomenon during the winter. Puzzled by the strange weather and the unprecedented yet extended visit of the sad angel, they undid

themselves in tears, as an act of solidarity—or so they understood. They found no other satisfying explanation for why the angel slept so much.

They held hands when they woke up in the morning, when they went to bed, or for walks, and especially tighter, their palms almost bleeding as


they approached the barn to visit the old angel. Still sleeping, and even whiter than the day before, the old man’s breathing was still evident by

the slow movement of his bare, wrinkled chest. Up and down, performing

his absence in the only barn in the world where snow came in through the windows and from no sky. They cried and held their hands, not because they had been forced to decide on someone’s death, but because they did not understand how it was possible to kill an angel. [Inspired by Gabriel García Márquez.] *** Las Madrugadas de Francisco Morales En la mañana del diecisiete de noviembre de 1990 faltaba exactamente una década para que comenzara el nuevo siglo. Francisco Morales, un padre de familia, lo sabía y se entretenía con sus fantasías. Imaginaba fiestas y una vejez fresca entre juventud incierta: que calaches y

tecnologías existirían al cabo de diez años, con cien más por delante, solo los poetas y sacerdotes podían predecir—algunos—pensaban

los más escondidos del pueblo. En preparación para esta novedosa

transición, se entrenaba todos los días de la semana mediante ejercicios de meditación y aeróbicos. Dormía profundamente noches enteras

durante los viernes, sábados y domingos. Comía sus tres tiempos de

comida completos, con fruta en dos de ellos, mucha agua, y meriendas

nutritivas bajas en azúcar y llenas de buena energía (cosas como nueces, zanahorias, galletas de soda integrales sin sal y sin gluten—productos del nuevo siglo). Sabía que era costoso vivir en una rutina estricta por razones tanto logísticas como emocionales, pero su cuerpo se había

acostumbrado a la falta de flexibilidad, algo que no le preocupada ya

que desde hace mucho que su vida no cambiaba. De hecho, Francisco


Morales había decidido un par de años atrás que no habría más cambios, y que ésta sería su fuente de felicidad, simple y sin costos emocionales. Pero el nuevo siglo se acercaba y la incertidumbre era inevitable, el

cambio sería primero mecánico, universal desde el occidente al oriente, para luego manifestarse en olas de celebración e indiferencia una vez adaptado el mundo. Los seres de la tierra se besarían y abrasarían y

verían al nuevo cielo con asombro como si éste les fuera a revelar los

acontecimientos de los siguientes cien años en forma de astros delgados, casi invisibles salvo por los colores que dejaban ecos en el océano de polvo lunar.

Por eso era imperativo, ante todo cambio, ante todo jolgorio y espejismo en los ojos del prójimo, que su cuerpo siguiera siendo el mismo—la

estabilidad corporal era su medio para asimilar como los cuentos ajenos se abandonaban con los años. Aparte de la consciencia corporal, el

padre de familia se mantenía informado, leyendo no solo periódicos y

revistas de carácter político - las sátiras le causaban una gracia inversa, bajo la cual terminaba llorando las desgracias de los desgraciados

privados (“invisibles” quizás sea mejor término, se pensó) luego de reír por horas, asegurándose de primero escurrir las desgracias de

desgraciados públicos con el fin de desnudarlos. La escritura desnuda a las cosas del mundo, pero Francisco Morales no estaba seguro si

la mejor fuente de pureza era la palabra. Por eso, como parte de sus medidas para la estabilidad y purificación, el silencio moderaba los

excesos del lenguaje. Se dedicaba a leer diarios y novelas—algunas

veces poesía, cuando se sentía verdaderamente solo un par de veces al año—, escuchar radios en tarde temprana, ver noticieros después de la cena y de vez en cuando susurrar un par de palabras que hace mucho

escribió—y que desde entonces recicló internamente—al margen de

sus pensamientos: en una servilleta bajo el café decolorado por el primer sol, o en las viñetas de un periódico de la década pasada.


“Bueno señoras y señores, esto ha sido todo por hoy. Los esperamos mañana temprano con más noticias sobre el reciente escándalo del

seguro social que parece cada día complicarse más. Esperamos que

aquellos quienes tienen el poder y la confianza del pueblo hondureño

tengan la decencia de dar explicaciones y la capacidad para reaccionar

eficientemente a un pueblo privado de cuidados esenciales. Una vida …

[el silencio es necesario] no tiene precio. Buenas noches.” Se duerme sin una palabra; a su lado, su esposa pretende dormir con inspiraciones y expiraciones de mentira.

En la mañana del diecisiete de noviembre de 1990, Francisco Morales se levantó a comprar el periódico del díay una red de naranjas en la

esquina de su vecindario, sin portón de colonia privada ni vigilantes

dormitando en el alba, y se sentó solo en la cocina sorbiendo café recién hecho mientras emprendía en su lectura diaria de las noticias no solo de Tegucigalpa, que se decía parecía ir a su ruina voluntariamente en

aquellos días, sino del mundo—que era quizás más interesante o más productivo. Había puesto el periódico que recién recogió en un cajón lleno de los periódicos del mes pasado, y su lectura la ocupaba en

periódico de varios años atrás—aunque procuraba ignorar la fecha exacta y guiarse por aproximados deducidos del contenido. Mucho de aquel juego histórico era al azar. Vio salir el sol al terminar un artículo sobre

plebiscitos poéticos, después de míticas amenazas de guerras nucleares en partes remotas del mundo, y otro sobre las nuevas imprudencias del candidato presidencial más temido del mundo, un verdadero déspota

debe ser, pensaban los más escondidos de la ciudad—imprudencias que a Francisco Morales le sacaban una sonrisa que era más humor vacío que desencanto. El resto del mundo…

En la mañana del diecisiete de noviembre de 1990, Francisco Morales vio salir el sol y tuvo la certeza de haberlo invocado, de haberlo visto


vacilar, pero no supo nunca por qué y tuvo miedo de hacerse la pregunta. Francisco Morales retiro su mirada, dejando que el sol lo bañara tras las ventanas de la cocina desnuda, aun sin niños y sin mujeres, y se

permitió una sonrisa secreta, diferente al vacío anterior, como curva de un pensamiento predilecto: ya solo faltaban diez años para el nuevo siglo. *** The Rest of the World Is made out of newspaper scraps. El niño come naranjas

The little boy was trying to sell his oranges Picked from his imaginary orange tree During an imagined autumn

Outside of his imaginary little home El niño come naranjas

Cuando vio que al cabo de horas Y horas Y días Uno Dos

Tres Tres Tres

¿Ya vez? A nadie.

¿A dos lempiras nomás? De nadie.


Y comenzaban a oscurecer no solo los cielos y las naranjas, pero

también las personas, pasando frente a él, junto a él, tras él, con tan poca alteración en su andar que fueron perdiendo la mirada completamente ante los ojos del niño. El niño sin cara sostuvo una canasta llena de

naranjas que se agriaban con los minutos, contados con ramitas de la calle de tierra. La canasta de naranjas está hecha de pedazos de periódico colorado por el primer sol.

So the little boy started eating his own oranges. As he walked back to his imaginary home In his imaginary town Filled with people And opportunity.

The basket of oranges is made of scraps of newspaper colored by the morning sun.

El niño come naranjas mientras que un señor de la pequeña casa a su izquierda, antes de resignarse, sorbe café negro con filtros celestiales

inyectando su espesura,apoyado sobre un diario sin fotografías. Hace mucho tiempo que se fue.

[Inspired by the poetry of Nicanor Parra (“El Hombre Imaginario”) and Federico García Lorca (“Despedida”).]

46 46

Fujairah Across the Sea Sugandha Shukla Acrylic on canvas; October 2015


Active Participant Lina Elmusa

I lived my life,

I experienced it being torn down, ripped apart,

and shredded into pieces, kindly,


Then I watched my life,

I watched it being torn down, ripped apart,

and shredded into pieces, kindly,


I watched,

and rewatched.

That’s how I convinced myself

I am rational.

I am a passive observer, in someone’s life,

one that seems to take a lot of dull wrong turns.

I am a passive observer, but I never learn.

That’s how I convinced myself, that I know better,

than to make the same mistake, again and again.


All I need to do is watch, and rewatch,

and watch again. If I’m honest with myself,

I can tell you that the one thing, that I truly learned,

was that I am an active participant, in tearing my life down, ripping it apart,

shredding it into pieces, kindly,



We Are One Body Merima Sabanovic


Writes with a Knife Shamma Al Bastaki Texture paint and calligraphic engraving on canvas, 2015



Theodore Tenev

“Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse the curtain’d sleep.”

—Shakespeare, Macbeth

The sky’s on fire;

desolation of the night, praying for the rain.

Air—thick and cloying,

sheltering the predator until the hour strikes.

The clear consciousness, suffocates in ashes, in perturbation.

When despair becomes

fathomless, unbearable— it jumps, bites, and spits

venom viscous in deceit, quickly vanishes;

tainted poison stings

until misty dawn prevails, appearance deceives,


and the only cure

is not to fight, nor to twist and turn and struggle but instead to crush

beneath heavy lassitude of leaden despair

and to embrace this bleak sinister truth:

nothing is but what is not.



Louise Gerodias The savaging cold

Numbs all my senses, someone Kill that aircon, please! *

Losing all these fats

Is close to impossible  


Blame it on Maroosh

Collage 2 Kamilya Issaliyeva


Divided Skies 1 Evgenija Filova


To Do List

Alice Huang how to be productive

the poster on the bulletin on the second floor says make a list

my high school teacher said make a list

top ten most successful men in the world say make a list

so I made a list of things I want to do with you

when you visited me

but I did not complete the list so that you would come again

and I made a list of relationship goals for us

when we first started dating

but we have not completed the list so it’s not time for you to leave me yet and I made a list of things to take with me

when I was moving out

but I always forget a thing or two so that I always need to go back


Pas de Deux Rosy Tahan

Opening night was hers, and it was over. She made her way through the collective disharmony of the musicians putting away their instruments,

the rustle of tulle and taffeta, the squealing reception of wilting bouquets, finally arriving at her dressing room. Alex was there by the door, wearing the backstage pass she had gotten him.

“Congratulations, Giselle,” he smiled, leaning down to kiss her. She rose

to meet his lips, en pointe. “Better not call me that,” she said, leading the way inside. “You know what they say about names being a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

She started pulling pins out of her tightly wound bun. Catching his

confused look in the mirror in front of her, she rolled her eyes. “You have no idea what the story’s about, do you?”

“The inevitable death of true love, or something like that. Very ballet.” “Their love survives, actually. Arguably,” she amended. “Why am I dating such a cynic?”

“Why are you marrying such a cynic, you mean,” he grinned, encircling her waist from behind.

“Keep talking, and I might just change my mind.” “Some things never change, babe,” he whispered, kissing her neck, her collarbone, her shoulder, pulling down whatever silky material got in his way.


She looked at her reflection, watching his progress down her body. No, but most things do. Her right leg was hurting again. *** She couldn’t remember when the ache had started. Maybe it was there during graduation, when all the girls squeezed into precariously high

stilettos and desperately prayed their way down the stage to receive

their diplomas. She had to tug hers out of the principal’s reluctant hand, echoes of you don’t apply yourself following her off the stage. Not

that she really needed straight A’s. She already knew she was going to

Juilliard, had known it on the drive back home from the audition when she

lay on the backseat with her pointe-shoed feet sticking out of the window, tracing a return path to New York.

The ache was definitely there much later, like that day she and Alex went shopping, and he was intent on buying what was probably the most

hideous shirt she had ever seen. She paced outside the fitting rooms,

trying to think of a more tactful way to say you have shit taste, because

it was too soon in their relationship for that kind of scalding honesty, and she stumbled right through the curtain of another fitting room, knocking over the undressed guy inside and invoking the rage of his girlfriend.

They never went back to that particular H&M again, but at least he didn’t buy the shirt.



She used to love it when Alex came to rehearsal, and it wasn’t a rehearsal anymore. She liked having him watch her, anticipating what her body could and would do later, always, his eyes following her leaps across

the studio, her perfectly aimed arabesque—one leg on the ground, the

other straight behind her, arm in front, reaching. Attitude—the leg behind is curved at a right angle, arms curved overhead as though holding a

giant egg, like her childhood ballet teachers had instructed. Plié—heels together, toes pointed outwards, knees bent to form a diamond.

They were wrong, of course, those teachers who reduced them into the

outlines of basic geometric shapes. Ballet wasn’t in the spaces between

arms and legs and partners. It was inside the arms and legs and partners, in their muscles, their tendons, in the dissipating substance between their

bones; it burst out of them with control and precision. Not like metaphors. Not like thoughts and feelings. Not like love. She went over to Alex’s left side during the break, leaning on him,

watching the other dancers flash their ribboned and lycra-sheathed legs, containing power, perhaps containing secrets too. *** They had met at a house party not long after she started at Juilliard,

during a game of poker, someone had set up in the only corner of the

house that didn’t reek of smoke and booze. She settled into the game with Alex in the seat on her right. They both played well, successfully

bluffing their way through round after round, because it was easier to lie about cards than almost anything else.


Everyone else eventually gave up and quit, and it was just the two of

them, and it didn’t make sense to continue the game, so they started

talking, and she told him why ballerinas famously held their hands the

way they did, barely curved fingers, like a loose grasp, as if you’re holding a rose that can prick you. The next day he was at her door with a single thorny rose, saying that it seemed to be a citywide florist policy to clip off the thorns, and he couldn’t get more than one without arousing

suspicions of ill intent, and she laughed, and they went out together and dated, then moved in together and got engaged, and there was still no date set for the wedding.

If he were to get her a rose again, she would hold it tightly in her fist, and squeeze and squeeze.


Halfway through the season, she started to hate taking the stairs after

shows. The lack of elevator in their apartment building was no longer a

quirky relic of old New York, as it had been when they first moved in three years ago. Wincing every other step, she glowered at the doors of all the neighbours who lived on the floors below them.

Finally at the fourth floor landing, she rested her weight against the handle

of their door, anticipating the usual imbalance when the door swung away, but unable to stop herself falling this time. “Babe? Are you okay?” At the sight of him hurrying towards her as she lay sprawled on the floor, fury flashed through her, unreasonable fury but she went with it, crawled over to their speaker system, turned up the volume as loud as it would go.


“Turn it down! Are you trying to get us kicked out of the apartment?” “Fuck the apartment!” she shouted over the deafening orchestra. “Fuck this stupid apartment and its stupid stairs—”

He unplugged the speakers. The sudden silence made her embarrassingly aware of her shouting.

“What’s going on?” he asked. “Would it kill you to actually show up for a performance every now and then?”

“What? But we agreed—” “I mean, most dancers are out before they’re anywhere near becoming Prima Ballerina, and it’s like you don’t even give a shit—”

“Babe, of course I do, but you know I can’t take time off three times

a week, you know I don’t leave the office until the doors have already closed—”

“Alex, we’re halfway through this season, and how many shows have you attended?”

“You seriously expect me to attend all 48—” “What do you even do, just sit around and wait for me to drag my body through the door—”

“I just told you, I have work,” he said. She could feel his patience waning.


“And from now on, how about you miss rehearsal and watch me type

emails and draft proposals, maybe you can help me stretch in between—” “Stop patronizing me!” “Stop acting like a child! I’ve never missed opening night or closing night, and you know I try to come to as many of the other performances as I can—and it’s the same damn show every …”

He hesitated, then knelt beside her, the plug still dangling limply from his hand. “What is this actually about?” he said, quietly.

She sat with her head in her hands until her heavy breathing subsided.

“I’m sorry,” she said, looking up. “It’s just—I gave the best performance of my life today. I wanted you to see it.”

They looked at each other for a long time. “I’ll run you a bath,” he said finally.

He came in to check on her a little later. She heard his tentative knocking distorted through the soapy water and emerged to find his concerned gaze on her wet face.

She made him promise that he would come to closing night, no matter what happened.


A week before the season’s end, she went back to the jewelry store

where they had gotten their rings, saying just looking in response to the salespeople’s increasingly sour offers of help, just looking at the

other couples picking out rings, listening to their lighthearted bickering,


trying on the models they discarded, looking for something transferable, something to change her mind.

She was tempted to knock over one of the trays bearing rings, scatter

them all on the floor on purpose, and pretend it was an accident. But she

held in the impulse, no thank you, just looking, really, then she went home where Alex was already asleep and curled her body into his and sobbed and sobbed.


Finale. She had spent the past few days in her dressing room, lying on

the ground with the Giselle score on repeat, letting the choreography float in and out of her, excluding everything else, the scenes, the mimes, the

decay, the story, their story. It was a stupid story, and she was nothing like Giselle.

Closing night was hers, and it was just beginning. Her favorite ballet movement had always been the grand jetĂŠ, a running buildup to a leap off one foot, a split in eternal midair until the landing on the other foot. The choreography intended a landing on the right,

but she had been doing it the other way, sacrificing power and height

for the assurance of a safe landing. Now, waiting in the wings, she idly wondered if she should do it the right way this last time. It would give

them something to remember, the producers, the dancers, the audience, Alex, you promised to come, not that she expected it anymore, not after everything. It wasn’t fair. None of this was fair. She set her face and stepped onstage.


Hierarchical Reversal Alyssa Yu



Ankita Sadarjoshi Why was she so sullen? In her shit-stained Doc Martens, she looked like a jab at style; in her lack of a voice and hunched shoulders, she looked

like a piece of pain. What on earth was she frowning about? Those small

muddy eyes dancing in a trifecta of contempt, darting from lap to security guard to brick wall to lap again, until I grew dizzy watching her watch the world. Was I missing something? Some small shard of misery she saw in my world, but that my preoccupied eyes were blind to? It bothered me that she was bothered. I was spatially implicated in her woes; I deserved an explanation. I was happy, and she should have been, too. Was a loved ex-lover wheezing

on a hospital bed from OD’ing on crack? (Does one “OD on crack”?) She mentioned Amsterdam. Personal reasons. My mind unwarrantedly skims through useless categories of what I know about both—too much of

the former, not nearly enough about the latter, and not for lack of trying. Actually, yes, completely for lack of trying.

Something was not right, I deserved relief from human company, not

silent waves of invasive humanity. Breathing. Normalcy. Give me false, hopeful small talk, I inaudibly begged.

But she was hers, and I did not even know her name. She deserved to look differently with a face like hers, but alas, she looked so sullen.


A Pisces & Two Decades in Oman Alyssa Yu



Garreth Chan Her eyelashes were damp with dew, so she told herself the morning after overnight

there had been a drop

in bodies temperature

68 68

Nikki’s Tragedy Chukwuyem Onyibe



Nadeen Alalami 12:03:01 My tears on Tuesday lost

a battle with door locked. My loss on Wednesday slept through Algebra.

My fingers on Thursday stained. His fingers tugging at strands of black. My memory washed away the dirt of child’s play.

His fingers on scriptures. My obedience glared through me. Prayer beads between his fingers. My pen chastised me. His fingers lingering. My secret tucked itself in ruptured blood vessels. His fingers a ghost.


12:03:02 I had my first. F. That morning. I hadn’t had— I had lost. The time. Or think.

Count: the prayer beads escaping through each of his fingers. I could not cry that Tuesday evening. My sound had been gone. My tears shy.

They lost a battle with a door 45 minutes away or— they are muffled. Count: the colors left by his fingers. “Take the high road.” Smell of smoke. Coughs of a dying saint. My maturity surrendered this body. Out of breath— trust;

death makes it ok. Count: minutes in water. His fingers on breast. My memory washed away the dirt of child’s play

Count: the scriptures traced by his fingers. My silence shrouds. Over in dangling white


sleeves, scarf, Eid dress long. Black stretch of

Count: each of his fingers.


My school skirt scratching pulled

from another whispered sermon. The saint is a serpent. Count: each strand of black.

My 12 years old diligently laid me down on a brown-red prayer mat. In. Keep head down repeat. Count: 4 penitence. His fingers. My obedience helped out

with long-sleeved shirt, unbutton. Count: the years. Beats per second. Breathing tubes. Buttons. His fingers. Lowering. Me low.

“I feel sorry for you.”

My pen chastised me with oceans of ink on paper scraps. My arms. My— under the bed.

Fold my secret. 12 times years. Prostrated. 12 prays. 3 years. Stretch.

In sickness.

In ruptured blood vessels.

On breast.


Words condemn.



Between pages. Under tongues. On theories. His

fingers pinching. His

fingers linger. Counting: His

fingers ghosts. Under duress.

12:03:03 My

tears lose

door locks. His

fingers throat. My

maturity acquiesce body breathless. His

fingers breast. My

loss sleep Algebra,

prayer beads his




skirt pull sermon

whisper. His

fingers tug.


silence shroud

—sleeves white— me. His

fingers in. My

12 years me


prayer mat. His

fingers rub. My


glare shirt unbutton. His

fingers shake. My

pen chastise forgive. His

fingers pinch. My




condemn. His

fingers linger. My

memory wash dirt

child play

child. His

fingers scriptures. My

normal beats

wrinkles time. His

fingers yellow. My

secret folds

blood vessels rupture. My


black. His

fingers ghosts. His

fingers my


Peeping Lina Alyssa Yu


Divided Skies 2 Evgenija Filova


on loss

Khadeeja Farooqui

loss doesn’t come overnight.

doesn’t show its face after death.

it seeps through the gaps between glass and cement. taps on your window at four am on tuesday. and goes to bed with you.

hits you in the gut when you’re neither asleep nor awake. but somewhere between the two. it comes in bouts. in shadows.

in not knowing.

in pellets in the stomach.

in knees turning to mercury. in limbs collapsing.

loss comes in cereal bowls. in plastic coffee cups. in smoke.

in fireworks.

loss follows you. up fifth avenue.

to swings and ice-cream shops. to rocks in central park. loss doesn’t kill you. it hollows you.

slowly suffocating you.

like an asthma attack in march. carving spaces within you. loss holes you.


where once holds were. loss empties you.

drop by drop by drop.


new york city, 19 June 2016


Mosque Lantern Ethan Lee


Stranger Angelica Castro-Mendoza My father never speaks his language, only mine. And when he speaks, he speaks without an accent. He lost it on purpose. I inherited his shame. Sometimes, I look in the mirror and wonder what I look like. It’s strange how I’ve gone my whole life without knowing.


A Man and a Camel Ethan Lee


Base Fesu 1:18 Matilda Mahne Linocut and acrylics; 29 cm x 21 cm; September 2014


Sitting Room Ayah Rashid

Function in a


A whole body

for a left eye

Standing in morality wearing Purple converse

and vulgarity with no feet.

this is urban culture. Consumption of the perverse

Left eye for the rest of the race Oil lamps


dirt floor

no bed

mansion next door

Detail of figure 44: Black Beautiful Butchered

Create illumination with blinding shadows of small caskets London hideous from a balloon Dreaming in front of the Print shop window

see hundreds of you

black and white photographs


Tried to make gallery out of

Sand dunes beneath my covers Husband and wife

dancing on each other

I am looking forward to that Scholarly Panic yesterday

today forever

live in panic

Left eye washed the table

Then I would have to sweep the

The one piece of hard rice I want

flick it off onto the floor whole floor

Notebook with calming marks Black don’t crack so

Face will never resemble

The wrinkled shirt I have on today Sitting room window not big enough to jump my pinky finger under feel the wind with it

Freedom in sneezes

at least something escaped


Haikus: 1, 2, 4 Tzy Jiun Tan I

Noisy night market

The slaughtered chicken lies— Dreaming of a past. II

White porcelain vase

Red-lipped girl lies, seductive Unaware of time.


Church bells, white gown, light Upright men at the altar Her first time in heels.


The Old Is Beautiful Ethan Lee

87 87

Juicy, Colorful, Even Sweet Alice Huang (One grape)

(Ending a ten-year-long relationship)

I was full-bodied and gripping when I plunged into your young kiss

Now you spit me out

I lay there wrinkled, fully exposed (A Durian)

(Resting bitch face) Would never try

Can’t even be in the same room (A slice of watermelon)

(Grown cold in an abusive relationship)

Did not realise until that last tasteless bite All is left is paleness and bite marks

Irreversible things are the only things that are real Irreversible things are the only things that matter


Fresh Dates Ethan Lee


Postcards from Agra Alyssa Yu


She Is a Tree of Life to Them Merima Sabanovic



Veto on the Feminine Noon Dr. Souad Al Sabah Translated by Shamma Al Bastaki 1 They say: Writing is a great sin … So don’t you write. That bowing before letters … is forbidden Beware, sit tight. That rivers of poetry are poison … Be warned, don’t drink or bite. Yet here I am I drank too much But remain unpoisoned By the ink in the inkwell to my right. Yet here I am I wrote so much And set fire to every star in sight. Not a single day did I feel God’s wrath, Nor did the Prophet ever resent my path. 2 They say: That speech is the privilege of men … So don’t you dare to speak. That courting is the craft of men … So don’t you love or seek. That writing is a deep, deep sea … So don’t you drown or shriek. Yet here I am Who has loved so much. And here I am Who has swum so much. I resisted all the seas and have not drowned, As they bespeak.



3 They say: That with my poetry, The wall of virtue I broke. That the real poets are men, So how can a poetess be born in the tribe? I laugh at this nonsense again, What an absolute joke, And scoff at whom, In the age of Star Wars, Still want females to choke. And I ask myself: Why is the chant of men so swell and nice? And the voice of women a wicked vice? 4 Why? Why, why, why ‌ Do they create this fabled wall? Between the fields and the trees, Between the clouds and the rain, Between the clouds and the rain, Between the female gazelle ‌ and the male? Who ever said that poetry has a gender? Or that prose has a gender? Or that thoughts have a gender? Who ever said that nature could deny The lovely voices of birds in the sky?


Fighter Fish Nisala Saheed



Garreth Chan you unfold in front of me gingerly I see


by careless hands from you

we make  

beautiful swans


Untitled Guo Lu


Homo Erectus: Thus Walked Zarathustra Merima Sabanovic

Like most living creatures, the pigeon quickly associates the pressing of a lever with reward. But when a timer releases the seal automatically every 20 seconds, the pigeon wonders, “What did I do to deserve this?” If it was flapping its wings at the time, it will continue to flap convinced that its actions have a decisive influence on what happens. We call this “pigeon superstition”: What did I do to deserve this? —From the film Mr. Nobody (2009), dir.Jaco Van Dormael

Our discoveries of human fossil records happened in inverse relation

to their geological ages. In the mid-1980s Alan Walker and the Leakeys found you, Homo erecutus, then the earliest example of a hominid species. You were the oldest ancestor that we knew of.

We, Homo sapiens, are an inquisitive species. We have devised tools that enable us to travel immense distances of time. We use methods

of the sciences we created to generate chains of numbers and words

to describe and understand this world. We are your descendants, and now we are straining our curious eyes to see you. We would so like to

know you, to see your faces and experience your world. Could you have imagined that, one-and-a-half million years from your extinction, the

surviving humans would be asking, “Who were you and what have you done to deserve this?”

To us, time is an evolutionary stream of ancestors and descendants, and we see you as a part of that stream. The Homo genus is everything but

homogenous: there once was a mosaic of hominid species. From the first stone tools, upright gait and an explosion in brain size, we have traced


our origins and found you to be the closest to us. Therefore, we feel a

powerful connection to you: through you, we feel a physical and symbolic link to the rest of Nature’s creation.

At the Kenyan site of Nariokotome, we found a fossil of one of your own— the “Nariokotome boy.” If our reconstructions are correct, this boy would look human to us, if we were to see him today. Although, we would take him to be a young man, when in fact he was only seven to nine years

old. How fast your development clock was, how advanced you were for your age. We are shocked by the size of your head, your brain double the size of those before you, but nevertheless still only two-thirds the

size of our own. In order to support such rapid development and drastic change in energy expenditure, you had to have had a much better diet

than your predecessors. In order to shift to a carnivorous diet, you had to

survive against other predators and develop sharper tools and faster legs, increasing your hunting chances. After we had discovered your hominid ancestors, we could see how your bodies were taller, your posture fully upright and your hands made more precise and powerful. Your feet

were specialized only for walking, and your hands, freed from locomotor responsibilities, turned into organs of manipulation. Because of these

findings, you shaped our impressions of the first true human species as a large-brained, tool-using carnivore.

After your arrival, long-gone were the days of tree-climbing. Your bodies

were adapted for long-distance walking and endurance running. You were not just a hunter, but a traveler—the original colonizer. You were quick to

adapt to new environments, and therefore you were able to reach farther into Africa and Asia than those before you. You were not just “Man the

Toolmaker”: you were Man the Explorer. Your exodus from Africa made

Homo a “range-expanding carnivore” (Gurche 121), thereby extending the reach of our species. You have impressed us with your ability to control


the environment around you and to form connections with each other.

While presumably some form of primitive sound-making was present in

your societies, your vocal chords have not yet sufficiently evolved for the development of language.That would mean that if we were to meet you, we could not communicate. I wonder, would we hold that against you? Would we see it as a failure to achieve a fully human status?

Self-awareness is a particular talent of our species. We are able to

conceptualize and characterize ourselves as objects distinct from rest of

Nature—and from the rest of our species. When we try to understand you and your cognitive abilities, it is so easy to impose our own constructs. We are tempted to imagine your understanding of the world as similar to ours, just not as good or full. We are tempted to anthropomorphize

you and still think of you as less “human.” We forget that ours and your “adaptations” are all mere “exaptations,” characteristics that resulted from random mutation. Hominin DNA has regions that evolved much

faster compared to ancestral ape species, namely 330 times faster. What luck we had to be favored in such a way by natural selection! Once our

hands were freed, the interaction between our will and the world around

us changed dramatically. We became better hunters and meat eaters. The capacity to change our dietary habits, combined with the evoluation of

our brain evolution and the develppment of culture that quickly followed,

transformed us into the more intelligent, highly social, technology-bearing hominins that we take ourselves to be today. Still, if you ask as to define humanness, we could not find the right way to go about doing so, although we would all agree that you do not quite fit the category.

Could you have known that your most prized characteristic of a traveler would be the cause of your demise? Meeting others who looked like

you, but were not in fact Homo erectus, was devastating for your genetic pool. Perhaps the later appearance of oral language used by our own


species Homo sapiens pushed you out of the evolutionary stream that

was simply going too fast for you to catch up. We once thought we could

be the cause of your extinction, since our genetic interactions would have made you too vulnerable. We have recently found, however, that you

were long gone before our arrival. More than 100,000 years had passed

before Homo sapiens walked in your footsteps. Our guilt was relieved, but a strange sense of loneliness was left in its place. We were left flapping

our wings in pigeon superstition, asking—what did I do to deserve to be alone?

The co-existence of multiple hominins was a historical norm that we

broke, being the only Homo roaming the Earth today. We are alone in our

species. This is why we crave so much to know you, our fellow hominins. With our ability to control evolution, the arrow of time can yield to our will and go in any direction. With a few mutations here and there, we could

revive your species from the dust in which we found you. We would not need to stare into the hollow eyes of ancient skulls, but instead probe and prod your body and flesh to answer our questions. If we could

meet, would our species seem strange to you? We can see that in some ways you are like us, but our ways are vastly different. Would we seem

backward to you? Would you be angry with us, for what we have done?

Would you be jealous that from at least 25 proto-humanoids, we were the ones that escaped extinction and survived? Nature recognizes the value

of cruel destruction of entire species, allowing others to thrive in its place. Would you be able to see that value in your own destruction?

Homo sapiens is egoistic enough to believe that 14 billion years of the known universe, 4.5 billion years of Earth’s existence, 4 billion years

of life’s evolution and at least five major extinction cycles all served to

create the likes of us as the be-all and end-all of the entirety of evolution. We are paying the price for Nature’s jump. Our species is plagued by


diseases—autism, allergies, obesity, cancer—all consequences of our

accelerated adaptation. We can see now that our origin was not inevitable and that our survival is by no means a given. We like to imagine hopeful endings in which we somehow get through this difficult time unharmed

and unscarred. I would ask you, our fellow hominins, to help us imagine

the world without us—an ending in which our insult to Nature is repaid in

equal measure by our disappearance. Some of our artifacts would maybe

survive for future “weed” species. Earth’s survivors will recognize us in the geological record by a thin layer of heavy metals and exotic hydrocarbons and will find fossils of a single global primate that, for a very brief time,

they had sustained. Then, our fellow hominids, we will finally understand you.

Works Cited Mr. Nobody. Dir. Jaco Van Dormael. 2009. Film. Enriquez, Juan, and Steve Gullans. Evolving Ourselves: How Unnatural

Selection and Nonrandom Mutation Are Changing Life on Earth. New York: Penguin, 2015. Print.

Gurche, John. Shaping Humanity: How Science, Art, and Imagination

Help Us Understand Our Origins. New Haven: Yale UP, 2013. Print.

Indriati, Etty, et al. “The Age of the 20 Meter Solo River Terrace, Java,

Indonesia and the Survival of Homo Erectus in Asia.” PLoS One 6.6 (2011): e21562. Print.

Tattersall, Ian. Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins. New York: Macmillan, 2012. Print.


Autumn, Kirov (Russia) Anastasiia Zubareva


I Laugh the Only Way I Know How Adrienne Chang

1. I used to conjure images of my alter-life. Those were high-pitched

giggling girls after a long tennis practice, belting songs, racing horses, collapsing into breathless laughter over this and that no matter here or there. A year ago that would have been true. Instead, here I was

hopelessly stuck among self-constrained, over-ambitious Confucianmannered pupils who only understood theorem derivations and not much else.

2. Things people despise—Slow Southern drawls. Shink shink, steel

on steel. Whines disturbing shaded slumber on a stiff summer day.

Damp, dying seawater. Labels. Categories. ‘Barely’ keeping it together at a 4.0. Small talk marred with feigned interest. Getting trapped in the elevator with your significant other’s ex, or worse with their ex

and yours. The power couple on social media, the one that isn’t you. Serpents. Spiders.

3. Flowering plants—Baby’s Breath. Black-Eyed Susan. Bluebonnets.

Blue Sage. Daisies were your favorite flower. Sharp, sunbaked, green like fresh linen—this is how we’ll always remember you. Daylilies.

Edelweiss. Euphorbia. Geranium. Honeysuckle. Hyacinth. Hydrangea. Lavender. Lilac. Lilly of the Valley. Orchid. Peony. Petunia. Poinsettia. Sunflowers. Tuberose. Tulip. Wisteria.

4. Things that make you feel nostalgic– Broken laundry baskets, veined with age and laughter. Sandbox floors papered with wood chips. Empty cupboards, the soft drips of the tap above, shelter. Sugar cookie cutouts and fluffy dog vacuums. Odd day orange sorbet.


Fireworks. Handwritten notes on crumbled scrap paper. Vinho verde. Bossa nova.

5. Things forgotten– ‘Natalie + La$ha = best friends’ etched deep

underground, love lost in the hollow bunker. ‘I love you Szabo’ echoing through the city streets. Repetitiously begging to be remembered. Ink bleeds for missed chances. Red yarn heart tenderly knitting warmth for the wolf. Broken glass, shattered glory.

6. My father set off dreams of peace and happiness, dreams that

never came true. That was when we all lived together. We shared

the same ice cream dripping on a hot summer day and unabashedly shared our deepest darkest secrets without any hesitation. Kit-kat

chocolates squirreled away, our secret above racks of mothball coats. We’d gossip until we nodded off, waking up only to the warmth of

buttery flapjacks drowned in golden syrup. Sweet rum trickled down our throats; only the crickets were awake then. The next morning

you were gone. The fish were no longer there, nor was my favorite rosemary bush. They were buried with our secrets. 147 days ago these knots were tighter than ever.

7. Things later regretted– Losing my temper. The first word uttered.

Legs parted like the Red Sea. Not taking chances. Not reaching out. Leaving the anger you carelessly stitched in me. Keeping them out. Keeping me in. Anger in my breastbone, sadness on my shoulders.

Silver-grey wisps encircling burnt fingertips. Eighteen years of viewing my body with the antonym of love and the synonym of dislike.

8. Things I wish I was brave enough to tell you—I am a danger zone that

I make look like an oasis. Your heartbeat holds more courage than the


sky knows how to put into words. I’m sorry I can’t. They’ll come out like a flock of moths instead of a stomach full of butterflies.

9. Infuriating things—Forgetting the stove and coming home to a

soup-less dinner. Soggy french-fries. Showers with three settings: Antarctica, hell, and the devil himself. Trump. Burnt tongues from impatience. A mouthful of coffee grounds; the rest splashed over

screens and keyboards. Spending hours mending clothes, only to have them burnt by the iron. Airport delays surrounded by colicky

infants. Manspreading in economy class. Desert doors to the Arctic

Circle. Sentences beginning with “If you can’t reach it…” Forgetting to turn off the alarm on the weekends. Cutting yourself while slicing limes. Losing to the sock-stealing laundry gnome. Questions to

answer questions. Unhappy endings. Uncooperative hair. Writer’s block. Wet clothes.

10. Things that look fresh and pure—Vibrantvegetable markets crowding in alleyways. Heavy silver beads dotting pristine white tiles. White

linen lazily flowing under the sun, crisp and clean. Dewy spring buds. Woven baskets brimming with puppies. Mountain rivers melting. Untouched snow.

11. Mountains—Mint shisha at Jebel Hafeet. Taq Bostan. The foothills

of the Zagros mountains. Blackcomb Peak. Whistler Mountain. Tate Mountain. Ineu Peak of the Eastern Carpathians. Sovetov to the

southeast, Ozyorny to the south, Turist to the southwest. Ushba. 12. Things that make your heart beat fast—Metal clang of knives

smashing the ground. Reckless locks, chasms between you and your

dying bacteria.Fingers flitting through scales and arpeggios. Fourteen missed calls. Football finals. Physics finals. Heights. Subject lines: URGENT.


13. In autumn, the dusk—before the sun winks itself to sleep, the wisps

of crimson-yellow soft-harsh dust specks floating in the air. How you want to capture it in a jar, warmed with the bitterness of cinnamon,

and store it for the white frost and grey skies. On the border between somewhere and everywhere, ephemeral. Hymns of wind-soaked

laughter, the crunch of scattered leaves underfoot. Autumn evenings

of exhausted happiness; how lovely to be enveloped in nature’s dying breath.

14. Things that make you feel cheerful—Warm, cozy vanilla. Gooey homemade chocolate chip cookies. Kürtőskalács drowned in

steaming mulled wine. Snail mail. Hot pink toes dangling from hairy legs.Limbs cradled by soft linens. A dog and a squirrel and the

endless whirl of delighted chaos that occurs when they cross paths. Rain in the midst of the summer, like tears, cleansing, like the world finally letting out a sigh. Cats sunbathing. Cut grass drenched with sunlight. Complete checklists.

15. I laugh the only way I know how, with tears. The sky was dark at 3 PM. It’s just the two of us now. We breathed fire into our hearts banishing the chills into the cold of our vertebrae, like the way your hair curls warmly around my fingertips. You expanded into every crevice

between my lungs. Legs woven into safety nets. We fell in love over grocery store bread between hot lattes. I hope our reflections never end.


Rust Ethan Lee


[Catching feelings] Ayah Rashid

Tea spills out my chest

Fish with fingers on ribcage— Un-bottled water.


Jewish Door in Shanghai Flavia Cereceda


Divided Evgenija Filova


skype call

Khadeeja Farooqui

in a three-letter word, in the

pound pound pound

of my heart,

in one minute, fifty-seven seconds, in being brave, so brave,

I became all the women I never liked. abudhabi, 10/04/16


Divided Skies 3 Evgenija Filova


Divided Skies 4 Evgenija Filova



Ankita Sadarjoshi

Every day is an opaque struggle

To not pick old wounds and instead pick

Up a pen and try to pen opaque struggles into translucent words, To eat well and breathe often,

To resist jabbing my scars with insistence fraught with delusions of perfection,

Every day is a struggle to keep my unused pillows above sea level, And come to terms with The wonders of sleep; The blunders I keep

Making remind me I am abysmal flesh and bone with much to hone, This in turn launches reminders of wonders I keep inside me, Every day is a slouchy struggle

Towards loving the opaque creature Fraught with dents and cracks I have always been

And continue to become.


Garlands Alyssa Yu



Muhammad Shehryar Hamid Gather your weapons, assemble your horses, I have come in disagreement.

To this household injustice, to these laws, and from you I want my freedom.

Cursed myself, I have, for not being born of the other gender. Hurt myself, I have, for that night you made the blunder.

A seed is sown, a root is grown, perhaps you didn’t water it well.

“The plant is beautiful but not strong,” why are you the judgment of my strength?

Did God not make us equal, one man and one woman?

Or do you curse your wife too, did you never think you’d marry a woman? As I grew leaves, I saw, that he was still a stem.

Why do you anger yourself when my monthly discharge is at my own expense?

You’re adamant when you say that he can strive in every condition.

Just because I grew a flower, why do you hesitate to change my position? There’s something called choice and there is something called fate.

Why do you scold me for holding this pen when he goes out to play? My words can be more agonizing than the effects of a nuclear blast. But, tell me, please, which of these words wields swords? I see you running now, searching for your armor. My words are naked, I don’t dishonor my honor.


I Am a Box in the Basement Woman Laura Waltje

I am a box in the basement woman I am a blood glucose woman

I am a family restaurant on a cobbled street in a German village woman I am a chess figure woman

It is the middle of winter, only a few days into the new year and my sister and I sit on the couch of a dingy apartment doing our best not to

make eye contact with anyone. With every breath I take, I can smell

him. We look down. Answer with single words. He sits too close to us.

I can’t breath.

Slowly and relentlessly the plagues take hold.

The scarred earth rebuked him: he himself had sparked the


Gardens, like people, have a cycle: They are born, grow, mature, and


I am a hat, a walking stick, an umbrella girl. I am a young sweet wine girl.

I am a raclette and fireworks girl.

The branches and roofs droop weighed down by the seasons first heavy snowfall. The white snow.The gray slush.The window light ladders.

The candles. The pines. The melancholy tinged with fear. As you get closer to LĂźbeck, the thatched roof houses give way to blood red

bricks and a squat little church. During advent, a soft silence hangs over the northern german peninsula.

I am an advent woman.

I am a midnight mass woman.

I am a golden wedding woman. I am an angry, bitter woman. I am an unforgiving girl.


I asked my mother why we made this detour and she said it was because

of some notion of forgiveness. This was of course the biggest mistake in the whole process, the one thing that I cannot find in myself to

forgive her for. Not that she wants my forgiveness. She has made very clear that she does not.

A few months after she knew—found out from her mother, our

grandmother, the one my sister confided in—my mother received a

phone call. His voice on the other end, asking her for forgiveness. She told him the same thing that her mother told him in a letter. What he did was unforgivable.

I am a cobble stone girl. I am a curious girl.

I am the one who gets close to read the numbers on the machine.

I am the one who reaches for the needle and pricks my own finger.

He gave it to me as a christmas present. It must have been under the tree with the gifts for everyone else. At this point, they would have known. My grandmother, my aunt, and my parents. But it was a beautiful

chess set. Heavy gold and silver coated roman figures. Imperial on a board. It would have taken up so much luggage weight, but we

brought it back home from Germany to the United States. For a long

time, it sat in the living room, but for the past few months, it has been in the basement, ever since I told my mother that he is the reason I don’t play chess anymore.

I am a box in the basement women.

I am a chess figure woman, not a queen or a pawn, but a knight. I am a night light woman.

I am a close the door while I sleep kind of person.

My sister asks me ever night when we are in the same place if we can

have a sleep over. She likes to cuddle. Every night I say, I’m sorry. Not tonight. Tonight I want to sleep alone.


A Door Adorned Alyssa Yu


Untitled Evgenija Filova


afternoon poem Ankita Sadarjoshi

today my words are full of holes i did not know i was digging my sentences sliced in half by invisible walls of silent doubt none of what i say makes full sense anymore because i have not made full sense in so long it seems the last time my words felt as full and whole were when i was drinking alphabet soup in my youth and letters that otherwise meant nothing nourished me with their innocence my hollow fraudulence my hollow words make even less sense

now than the chalkboard words whose sounds imemorised happily cat park banana balloon an ocean of words swimming in meaning and mystery drown out my filthy tub of long sentences that now sound more like questions to me.


Fixed Alice Huang


Falling, Slowly G Jansen It can drop To the floor With pomp and circumstance And fill the street holes lavishly, form lakes And bury all, drenching the dry land. Or make the dense air Denser, damper Till the rice picker’s lungs Are drenched and the waterfowl Violently twists and turns, Throwing off the unpleasantness of the wet coat. Or fill the lighted alley With colourful reflections in puddles,

Through which dancing couples twirl, Splashing their dining observers In cheerful cafés With laughter and delight. Or collect on the poor man’s felt hat And make it sink deeper yet Into his grey, faulted brow, He that sits on a park bench Amongst the rejuvenating freshness of green, An island within the city towers all around.


Or enlighten, enliven The little jumper in his hideaway, Croaking, crying of joy, For it has been long Since the dry period commenced, years ago – The hunter and his twitching prey. It can pour down endlessly Day by day, Trickling into grand oceans, Seeping into winding rivers And fill the mountain stream, at which I rest And feel the universal rain sink into my soul: Entirely, ceaselessly.


The Secret Lover Alice Huang will you be ready to sit in the audience in the dark to be just one of them who bought an eighty buck ticket like the woman sitting on your right fitting herself into a theatre on a Friday night to hide a lost earring with a scarlet cocktail dress will you be average for me will you still laugh at my haphazard jokes even if I made someone else’s day when I span and spread my legs

even if as the curtain rolled down I remained a soft whisper of Vino Santo to the man who sat in the front row when he ashed his unfinished cigarette will you caress my broken ankle will you applaud when I’m the only note out of tone too skinny and nine inches too short


can you still see through my tremble when I gaze at my extended finger tip but really don’t believe in summer or soul will you caress my broken ankle will you read my static smile and my forged sorrow Or do you not remember who I am anymore?


linguistic aphasia

Pramugdha Maheswari

i struggle to form

the words of my childhood



heeng turmeric jaggery

asafoetida flowed easy

yellowed sweetened enhanced Ma’s lentil fry and her tongue hindi too these spices

lodge in my larynx

jaggery acidifies on my tongue a kavita paints itself within me

laphz jo zubaankidahleezko par nahikar pate

(words that are unable cross the threshold of my tongue)


Man, Mannequin Alyssa Yu



Dominique Joaquin

He had gotten up. The sound of his phone had rung with the unmistakable sound of a new message. She sent him a message. You still up? She asked. He fumbled around, grabbed the glasses that rested on the nightstand to his right, and ran a hand through his hair. Yeah. He typed into the little box. He didn’t press send yet. No. That was way too short and that period just made it seem too final.

He erased the period. Then stared at the words again. He erased the “h,”

then the “a,” and then the “e,” followed by the “y.” He took a quick breath and his thumbs went to work, quickly and quietly tapping on the glass

screen, forefingers holding up his phone, the rest of his fingers supporting it as his thumbs frantically tap danced on the screen.

Uh huh, why? He typed in, it was casual enough. With a sigh he looked up from the screen. There was nothing much to look at in his room. He

probably should have decorated. He took a quick breath before his right thumb pressed send.

Almost immediately after sending his response, he threw his phone onto his bed. It landed on the soft layer of blankets which quickly caved in

around it, cushioning its fall. What if that message was too … plain? The words “uh huh” were probably too nonchalant. Maybe he should have

included a smiley face. Maybe an emoji. Some type of sticker maybe?


The phone rang twice, creating the sound of two high pitched dinging

noises that echoed in his room. He reached for the phone, paused, then

rubbed his face with his free hand. He could do this. She just replied. No

big deal. He picked up the phone, the screen was dark, probably because he’d taken too long to pick it up. He pressed the button on his phone. He sighed. It was just a notification for him to “Come back and play”

last month’s equivalent of Flappy Bird. He never really got the chance to delete that. Maybe he should. He released a low groan before dropping

the phone onto his bed again, this time it made a little arc.He threw it with a little more of strength this time. The phone landed on his bed with a

muffled thud. Then, filled with anxiety, he picked it up again, quickly and avoiding the screen.

The phone rang. His fingers flinched, and suddenly they began to shake.

He swallowed a dry lump in his throat then quickly scooped up the phone and flipped it over.

Just wondering � What did she say again? Oh right, she asked if he was sleeping. He

grinned. Perhaps that was the effect of the smiling emoji at the end of her sentence. He was just about to slide his thumb across the screen when

another message appeared below the two-worded-single-emoji message. I wanted to sing but I chickened out, the message said. No periods. He smiled. That had to mean the conversation wasn’t over, right? He slid his thumb against his screen. He began to type in a message.

You should have, he began, but then the bubble of the horrifying three

dots appeared above the box where he’d typed in his text. So he paused


and erased the three words he’d typed in. He then proceeded to wait for

her message. The three dots disappeared. But she hadn’t sent him a new message. He sighed, stupid app. He typed his message again.

You should’ve gone. Would’ve been fun � There, the smile finished that message off well. His thumb hovered over the send button. He cringed at himself, closed his eyes, and squeezed them shut as he

pressed send. He flung his phone forward, cringing as he watched it spin in a full circle before it landed further away from him just a few inches away from the edge of his bed. Another ring. He scrambled to pick his phone up and looked at the screen. Thanks for the encouragement—I’m gonna go to bed now, she sent. He didn’t want the conversation to end. His fingers immediately began to work, dancing on the screen as he tried to figure out ways to respond to make her talk again. Maybe —Erase. Okay then —Erase. Do you wanna talk about it some more? —Erase. No wait. That was a good one. Do you wanna talk about it some more? I’m right here � He typed up.


That should be good. Right? He shivered before letting his thumb hover above the send button.

Don’t be such a scaredy cat ... Just do it. He hesitated and then with a deep breath his thumb came down, and then it was just a millimeter above the send button.


House Flower Chukwuyem Onyibe


Airport Road 04  

The Fall 2016 issue of the NYUAD student creative journal.

Airport Road 04  

The Fall 2016 issue of the NYUAD student creative journal.