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ISSUE 05


AIRPORT ROAD www.electrastreet.net/airportroad 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 electra.nyuad@gmail.com ISSN 2312-1777 © 2017 Electra Street

Front Cover Image: Detail from 家家, Yunbo Wu Back Cover Image: 家家, Yunbo Wu


CO-EDITORS

EDITORIAL BOARD

Lina Elmusa Tzy Jiun Tan Shamma Al Bastaki Louise Gerodias Dominique Joaquin Zoe Patterson Grega Ulen

MANAGING EDITOR FOR DIGITAL

Viswanath Chandrasekar

FOUNDING EDITOR

Sachi Leith

EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Deborah Lindsay Williams

PUBLISHER

Cyrus R. K. Patell

Issue 05 Spring 2017


CONTENTS POETRY Isabella Peralta, kabayan 11

Lateefa Almazrooei, Adolescence 15 Tzy Jiun Tan, One Sum of Two 16

Thirangie Jayatilake, Above the Sea 18

Emma Kay Tocci, In Response to Howl pt. 1 22 Vamika Sinha, New Delhi 25 Saif Abdalla, Interaction 29

Lina Elmusa, Apolitical Body 32 Archita Arun, Dhadkhan 43

Mariam ElZoghbi, The Art of Shock 48 Zoe Jane Patterson, Lupine 56

Tala Nassar, Romanticized Pain 57

Esad Babačić, Makedonska [The Macedonian] 60 English translation by Grega Ulen Zoe Jane Patterson, Orbit 63

Emma Kay Tocci, a City Girl to the Boy Back Home 65 Vamika Sinha, stunner 68

Laura Johnna Waltje, Schlaff Weiter 71

Lina Elmusa, From Under the Occupation 74

Tzy Jiun Tan, Remembering Kuala Lumpur 78 Boris A. Novak, Od/ločitve [Decisions] 92 English translation by Grega Ulen Shenuka Corea, Untitled 100

Josip Osti, BOVA ŠE ENKRAT VSTALA OD MRTVIH

[WILL WE RISE FROM THE DEAD ONCE AGAIN] 111 English translation by Grega Ulen

Shenuka Corea, Expressionist 114 Lina Elmusa, My War 121

Muhammad Shehryar Hamid, The Road from Every Year 126

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PROSE Julián Carrera, The Island 37 Nicole, Apple to Apples 53

Vamika Sinha, It Comes in Pieces 81

Salha Al Ameri, The Head of the Table 88

Vamika Sinha, While You Were Singing 102 Vamika Sinha, Arrivals and Departures 116 Mani, Fifteen Years in 100 Words 125 VISUAL Yunbo Wu, 家家 [Detail] (Front Cover) Alice Huang, I do not work for art 10 Suraiya Yahia, Pious in Blue 12 Yunbo Wu, Morocco 2 13

Emma Kay Tocci, Ophelia 14

May Baho, Untitled Drawing 17 Ahmad Yacout, Save Me 21 Yunbo Wu, Sri Lanka 13 24 Shenuka Corea, Abed 26

Luis Carlos Soto, Shu Khee 27 Alyssa Yu, Trust Issues 28

Kevin Mokhtar, Ladies in Pink 31 Luis Carlos Soto, Morning 34 Yunbo Wu, Ming 35

Ahmad Yacout, Adamwow 36

Zoltán Derzsi, Sivatagsziget 41 Suraiya Yahia, K.I.N.G. 42

Ethan David Lee, Gotcha 46

Chukwuyem J. Onyibe, Tocka–noun: ’tō-skə 47 Suraiya Yahia, Death on a Wall 52

Shenuka Corea, The Fortuneteller 55

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Laura Johanna Waltje, Helminth (1) 58 Laura Johanna Waltje, Helminth (2) 59 Tala Nassar, Starry Night Body Art 62 María José Alonso, Raw 64

Luis Carlos Soto, Chucho 66

Ahmad Yacout, Adam big problem 67 Teona Ristova, Time Lapse 69

Laura Johanna Waltje, Oma’s Hands 70 Alice Huang, Settle 72

Alyssa Yu, Vespers at San Miniato 73 Luis Carlos Soto, Horizon 76 Alice Huang, Armor 77

Luis Carlos Soto, Throwback 80 Tala Nasser, Ballerina 83 Yunbo Wu, Collect 84

Suraiya Yahia, Winter Juggler 85 Alyssa Yu, Marseille Fish 86

Roland Folkmayer, Lac Rose, Senegal 87 Yunbo Wu, Morocco 3 91

Gurgen Tadevosyan, In Between Skyscrapers 98 Ethan David Lee, Treasures of the Maze 99

Suraiya Yahia, Malaise on the Rooftops 101 Ahmad Yacout, Shreezus 112 Luis Carlos Soto, Bajii 113

Teona Ristova, Dynamics 115 Yunbo Wu, Beijing 119

Ethan David Lee, Hanging Footsteps 120 Alyssa Yu, Word Count 124

Flavia Cereceda, Corners in Dubai 127 Yunbo Wu, 家家 (Back Cover)

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INTRODUCTION Airport Road 05 presents the work of students from across New York University’s global network. Although the phrase “Airport Road” may be losing its literal meaning for students at NYU Abu Dhabi, now that the NYUAD campus is on Saadiyat Island instead of on the corner of Airport Road, the magazine serves as a reminder of those beginnings and brings together a diverse group of students to tell stories that come from around the world. “Diversity” is a word that is used a lot these days, and what Airport Road 05 demonstrates is that “diversity” is not merely a set of rules created in an office or a set of statistics about racial, sexual, and ethnic difference. In this issue, diversity also emerges as a source of artistic inspiration and is expressed through the different forms of representation that people choose for themselves. Diversity pushes you out of your comfort zone and the norms with which you are familiar. To experience true diversity, however, you need to listen to other people’s stories. Airport Road 05 presents stories about families, aging, politics, anger, learning—and more. In these pages you will find both experimental and conventional work in variety of genres including poetry, prose, translation, paintings, collages, and photographs. You’ll see work not only by students who are specializing in the arts and humanities, but also by engineers who like to write, chemists who draw, and economists who take good pictures.

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I hope this issue does for you what it did for me: pushes you to to think about others’ stories and to revel in the art that diversity can yield. —Lina Elmusa

Flip through any NYUAD marketing brochure, and you will find differently colored faces pictured across its pages. NYUAD is marketed as a utopia where people from all around the globe come together to do great things. To be sure, it has one of the most diverse university populations in the world. With people from over a hundred nationalities composing a student body of a little over a thousand, NYUAD does not offer a typical undergraduate experience. If you’re not careful, however, you can easily slip through the crevices of the global university and emerge disillusioned with the world. Every day, different cultures, backgrounds, and languages mix, negotiate, and clash at NYUAD. Because your social environment is constantly in flux, you are constantly redefining your relationship to it. It can be difficult to feel at home at NYUAD. Because no one person shares your exact belief system, engaging in conversation and debate is a responsibility rather than a choice. You must defend your ideas if you choose to assert your identity, because there are few common assumptions about the world shared between people. At the end of the day, when you retreat to your room, you may feel overwhelmed and alone. This is what they do not tell you about being an NYUAD student.

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Perhaps you will adapt to this engineered diversity and find comfort in flux. Perhaps you will grow a thick skin for protective purposes. I belong to the latter group. Although I retain my receptiveness to new ideas, I stopped actively asserting my identity within the student community. I started to listen more than I talk. I do not voice my ideas beyond the classroom. In times of disenchantment with the stifling responsibility of being a global citizen, I retreat to the minimalism of a blank page and create pretty sentences. The poems and prose that I write are cathartic releases in moments of pressure. The process of creating is also an effort to reclaim my thoughts. Sometimes, I don’t want to think about orientalism or neoliberalism. Sometimes I just want to think about my loved ones, so I write about them. What you will witness in the following pages is proof that I am not alone in my need to create. In a global institution where comfort zones are hard to find, we have no choice but to create our own. Our works are not simply resistance to the “global leader” narrative bestowed upon us: they are also beautiful products of it. We are growing gardens in the oasis of our creativity, in order to cope with constant unfamiliarity. We are more than smiling faces on your brochures. —Tzy Jiun Tan

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I do not work for art Alice Huang

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kabayan

thirty-four years of her life struggle for space

to the sandy slopes of an arabian kingdom

from the suffocating smog of a capital city

saint pedro poveda college: class of 1999

photo ripped, edges folded, faces blurred

engaged to a man twice her age (prehistorian)

diploma clutched with ringed fingers (valedictorian)

four-hundred-year-old church: decaying and graying

frame broken, glass shattered, picture faded and fraying

going once, going twice, she’s sold! time’s up!

she steps right up to the marriage block—

final destination: riyadh

cramped economy seat (of course)

ticket for 1 (weary, dreary, teary) adult

flight time: ten hours of cabin exhaust fumes

passport: tattered, battered, falling apart

forced in her employer’s closet for years

every riyal saved up to send overseas

while she fried nuggets and cried buckets

nokia phone: indestructible, once viable, identifiable

weekly voice exchanges, choppy and muffled

“are you kabayan? can i call my child also?”

a filipina co-worker saw its screen once and asked:

Isabella Peralta

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Pious in Blue Suraiya Yahia


Morocco 2 Yunbo Wu

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Ophelia Emma Kay Tocci

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Adolescence

Lateefa Almazrooei “

We stole every shining moon and left one hanging To pretend there’s beauty in solitude.

We drank instant coffee out of cardboard cups,

Sitting on a chapped curb pretending like the caffeine was what   kept us up.

Our smiles were crooked, out of place

As we pretended these are the memories we will hold on to,

About how we spent a lonesome morning talking about things like: Why the world spins and we’re standing still;

Why the universe seemed so vast but constrained within our senses. We pretended these were the moments that created our bonds Tied us to the bone,

Memories of talks worth less than pennies

Talks that we will forget because time is voracious. ”

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One Sum of Two Tzy Jiun Tan

I saw your face in my face

When we made flowers out of dreams

And you touched my hands and we became One sum of two

In the most poetic sense possible

We made metaphors out of telegraphic thoughts Discussed theories from left to right Space, matter, energy I think we exploded With happiness

That night I weaved

In and out of your body Our bodies intertwined

Like dancers against a twilight sky My tears of ecstasy turned into Diamonds

We made rockets out of ashes burnt Worshiped the galaxies within

The microcosm of your living room We transported into each other’s reality

Forgone linearity and gave way to exponentiality And we touched

And I saw symmetry

In just that one instant

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Untitled May Baho Acrylic on canvas

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Above the Sea

Thirangie Jayatilake

You confused me at first. Constantly. Frustratingly. I

was

lost.

I didn’t know if I wanted to stay. I’d walk the streets Just watching

ayi’s sitting on pavements selling vegetables and shoes, and

clothes racks

extending

the

streets like

colorful

out

flags

of windows

and over

waving in

the wind

I couldn’t communicate much beyond

Dui bu qi, wo ting bu dong, I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I’d be reminded every day,

as my feet walked through your veins, Foreignness

me.

The ayi on my floor always smiled, She was always friendly,

but our conversations were abrupt,

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surrounds


zao an, chi fan, hao chi, mi fan

Good morning, meal, delicious, rice

she could never understand my accent so I never found out her name. Into the subway I’d file,

commuters packed in, arms by our sides, waiting to flow out into our destination, your blood rapidly moving.

But when it wasn’t crowded,

little kids, with round pink cheeks smiled and waved at me, and an ayi insisted that I took the empty seat

smiling as she pushed me toward it.

Your temples,

beautiful, intricate, ancient

with large open courtyards and incense smoke rising in wispy trails,

a serenity cadenced

by tall shiny skyscrapers.

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Like the buds that bloomed in Spring and took over the bare branches, smothered in fog so gray, I came to like you

And I’ve come to miss you. But now I guess,

I’m

That’s

Another

Through

Just

Been

Shadow

Your

Veins

Shanghai = 上海 = Above Sea

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Save Me Ahmad Yacout

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In Response to Howl pt. 1

maybe that was then, but this is now Emma Kay Tocci

angel-headed hipsters no longer light cigarettes in boxcars,

they light them with bleeding arms on bathroom floors.

their shoes aren’t filled with

blood because they don’t pick

themselves out of basements— sitting in smoke discussing

cinnamon girls with cynicism. screaming change! change! to their television sets

while apartment windows stay closed, locks untouched.

defacing alleyways with echoes from the better-than-thou,

but never billboards, never buildings housing the high-and-mighty,

only burning when the flame warms them. dipping pens into black ink to

write the words they think we need when the only light they see is from a computer screen.

they cut their wrists three times to bleed because to them, that is Poetry.

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they forgot about Time & Space and never found Eternity— the gaps are still there,

they just no longer care.

they’re shaking but not from shame— they tore their own hearts out.

22:51

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Sri Lanka 13 Yunbo Wu

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new delhi

Vamika Sinha braceleted skyline under fog; smog

silver-fish gray

under street food breath

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Abed Shenuka Corea

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Shu Khee Luis Carlos Soto

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Trust Issues Alyssa Yu

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Interaction

Saif Abdalla Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 Do you know how hard it is to make me talk? I need two deep breaths to say “hello.”

By the time “hi” and “how are you” are thrown back, I’ve prepared myself to bravely lie and say I’m fine. Lately I’ve been adding “I’m great actually,”

But actually, do you know what would be even greater? If I don’t have to have this conversation.

Any other human being would continue talking, tormenting me from the inside

As I constantly look for words in the English language to reply. But you do something worse: You stop,

Completely ignoring my existence. I guess silence is what I wanted in the first place

But I’m brainwashed to believe that I am supposed to receive affection

from you, dad.

There is supposed to be a human connection here, Something innate. I can’t find it

And it seems you lost yours too. What should I do

When I’m expected to warmly welcome you upon your return home? What should I say

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When my friends tell me you seem like the greatest father? A hilarious guy.

What should I think:

When I’m told that my father must be proud to have a daughter like me? Yes I am your daughter,

You did not raise me yet I am labeled as such. Tell me, when was the last time we laughed together? Instead of you laughing at my tears.

When was the last time you really listened? Instead of what others said about me. What about me?

I’ve had bloodshot eyes for days

Yet you never care enough to meet my gaze. It still amazes me

How much I care. I don’t know how to talk to people.

It takes two deep breaths for me to say “hello”

But around you it’s two before I can walk out the door

Because you suck all the air in the room with the words you won’t say

to me:

You won’t say: I love you.

You won’t say: I’m proud of you.

You won’t say how much I’m like you.

Because this cruel world has played a joke on us: I am the only child that resembles you

But I hope I don’t inherit your scowl or your ever-wrinkled forehead. If I do,

Trust that I’ll always take two breaths And speak to you.

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Ladies in Pink Kevin Mokhtar

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Apolitical Body Lina Elmusa

My mother doesn’t want me to claim too political a statement.

My mother does not think I should voice my thoughts too loudly.

But mama, otherwise, what is left for me?

She’s scared for my safety,

and the opinions of society.

But mama, otherwise, what is left of me?

Being born a woman is a political statement, Mama.

A woman of the color of the Earth—

It was a political statement when you told me what my religion is.

What’s an apolitical statement to me? My sex is a political statement, and so is my sexuality.

Mama, otherwise, what is left of me? I don’t really matter, in the

grand scheme of things, but to show too much skin, or to show none,

It’s all a political statement, mama. My social media presence, My dresses,

It’s all political.

My high-end education,

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My not-too-messy reputation So I’m sorry,

I’m sorry that I cannot exist Apolitically.

I would love nothing more

Than the privilege to just be. But I believe in human life, and the body—

I will keep going, mama,

Because that’s my favorite political statement,

To keep on living, strongly.

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Morning Luis Carlos Soto

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Ming Yunbo Wu

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Adamwow Ahmad Yacout

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The Island

Julián Carrera You’re standing on a wooden boat. You’re holding a paddle. Normally,

you’d use it to move the boat forward. Not this time. This time, you used it to smack your companion in the head. Go, you! You don’t know why

you did it. It seemed like a good idea at the time—plus, your gut said it

was reasonable—but now he’s sprawled face-down on the boat and you have no paddling companion. You’re not sure if he’s breathing. His hair

is getting wet with blood. You’re worried you might have killed him. You

don’t think you’re strong enough to kill a man. Not with a wooden paddle, at least. Wait. He’s moving. You hold the paddle like a bat, ready to swing. The man

rubs the back of his head and turns to look at you. His head is bobbing

with the bobbing of the sea. His eyes are fixed on you. You’re scared of him taking retaliation for the whole paddle-on-the-head thing.

“Who in tarnation are you and what are you doing on my boat?” You stare at the man and say nothing. His head is bobbing more now. He takes his hand to his mouth, turns to the water and throws up.

His belching and the sour smell of his puke make you gag. You put the paddle down. You get your face as close to the water as you can. Your

stomach contracts. Acid runs up your throat. The taste of barely-digested salmon invades your tongue. Your palate. Your lips. You return the fish to its natural habitat. It’s dead and in more parts than a jigsaw puzzle, but it still counts.

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You think you’re done throwing up. You’re not. You throw up once more. Now you’re done. You run your hand through your lips to clean them

up. You break the little strings of vomit at the threshold of your mouth, disgusted. The smell and taste of salmon and stomach acid lingers in

your nose and tongue. You reach to the other side of the boat and dip

your head in the water. You shake your head, take some of the water in your mouth, emerge, gargle, spit, repeat.

The man is looking at you. He didn’t bother cleaning himself up. Once you’re through with your cleaning, he poses the question again. “Who are you?” You don’t know what to say. “Don’t you know me?” you ask. “Why do you think I’m asking?” he says. “I am me,” you say. “Smartass,” says the man. “What are you doing in my boat?” You forgot what you were there for. You see a stony island ahead and an empty shore behind.

“I was paddling with you,” you say. “Bullcrap,” he says, “I always paddle alone.” “Why would I be here in the middle of the sea with you otherwise?” you ask.

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The man stays silent. He sits down on the boat. You do the same. You’re looking at his back. You didn’t expect a paddle-on-the-head to be so bloody; his hair is a crimson mess.

“Do you remember why I invited you?” You shrug. How are you supposed to know? He only told you to come

with him. His invitation took you by surprise. You had seen him at your

favorite bar twice, and he invited you over to go to some island on a small boat. Being the reckless adventurer you are, you agreed.

He picks a paddle from the boat and dips it in the water. You do the same. “Let’s do what you said,” he says.

You both paddle over to the stony island. It’s a silent way there. The water splashes as you oar. The man says nothing. You say nothing. You don’t even remember his name. Time goes by. You try to say something, but words pile up in your throat. You want to

ask him why he invited you, why this place and not other, why so much secrecy about everything that he had to invite you to a deserted island

and tell you about it when you both were in the bathroom. You think he’s

annoyed at you for, well, you know, smashing his head with a paddle. You decide not to push it and remain silent.

The island’s coasts draw near. You start discerning figures in the distance. There’s a long stick in a vertical position next to a stone and a pile of sand.

You keep paddling.

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The boat touches the island’s sand and slides into it. You get down and the man follows. You push the boat away from the water.

You walk over to the stick, the stone, and the sand. They are all next to a

hole about your size that goes down for a couple of meters. You look over

to the stick and find that it’s a shovel. You look at the stone and find that it has an engraving.

DRUNKARD

FOR KILLING FLUFFY IN HIS DRUNKEN STUPOR. 19XX —2017

NON REQUIESCAT IN PACE “Who’s this epitaph for?” you ask. You turn around to look at the man. He’s smiling. His hands are in his pockets. There’s a solid bulge in his pants. “Why are you so happy?” you ask. He doesn’t answer. He takes a gun out of his pocket, removes the safety, and points it at you. “For you.”

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Sivatagsziget Zoltรกn Derzsi

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K.I.N.G. Suraiya Yahia

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Dhadkhan

Archita Arun Harder

beat harder.

fall out.

lips brush lightly

strong mint

“Have I ever tasted you?” Privilege.

our walls.

I build them. And you break. Question. Wonder.

Love, don’t. not you.

Us.

This is about us. Or is it?

Your hands search search me.

Find my sanity

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it’s been lost “missing”

Find it.

Keep it to yourself.

Shh now, Hush.

Plagued by nightmares You whine

in Mandarin,

(foreign language)

is pain in a foreign language even pain?

An arm there,

begin to shiver cold

cover yourself

Great expectations often lead to

great tragedies. Bite,

Taste, lick

SCREAM.

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In ecstasy,

and in misery. Steal me. Hear my heartbeat Intimate.

Back off. it never was. and maybe

it never will be.

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Gotcha Ethan David Lee

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Tocka–noun: ˈtō-skə Chukwuyem J. Onyibe

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The Art of Shock

Mariam ElZoghbi It is no dispute

It is an occupation

You occupy my land while the world is occupied with Kylie Jenner’s lips It is no dispute It is a crime

against humanity

against me and my family

against my children and their families

against my grandmother who left her home for summer vacation

but she never made it back to school because you took her home

you took her clothes and her jewelry her toys and stationery

while her life became stationary no movement, no sound

no laughs no tears

the silence of shock. It is no dispute It is a fire

Burning in my heart Eating at my soul

Radiating from the stone

the stone I throw into your

“home,” your home which is mine.

48 48


Your home which was my grandmother’s

Your home, where my namesake smoked her pipe Because a Palestinian woman smokes pipe Throws stones

Sends her sons out to die

And screams in anguish as you retaliate stone for stone Sorry, stone for bullet Bullet for human Human for land

A Palestinian woman knows the sound of shock. It is no dispute

It is a fire of grief

sent to you through my only weapon while you set fire to my “home”

the one you assigned to me.

Just like you assigned my label Terrorist soldier Sold-ier,

My soldier sold his life for his soul What did your soldier sell?

Your soldier sold his soul for my life.

As I look at your tanks your soldiers of ranks

your Sharon and Netanyahu I see the war,

not a dispute.

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It is no dispute

It is a war between welad-el-3am

I am not anti-semitic, I am human

and you are no victim. Palestine is. Falasteen is.

It is not Israel

No map or man

No article or another No flag or tank

No bullet or funeral will change that.

It is no dispute.

It is my Falasteen. Your victim.

Let her go, for she is a senior citizen.

Let her go, for she will never stop fighting. Fighting for her life For her breath

Until your last breath.

Falasteen has learned the rage of shock.

It is no dispute.

It is a sacred fight. Love is sacred.

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My love for my motherland is sacred.

Your hunger for my lands is no dispute. Your thirst is no dispute.

Because you have yet to master the art

Because we have mastered the art of shock.

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Death on a Wall Suraiya Yahia

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Apple to Apples Nicole In a dazed confusion brought by the morning sunlight, I look down as I take a sip from my coffee. Next to the little mirror apple on my Mac, I see a fresh green fruit I took for breakfast, an apple. And I get dizzy, my mind swirling with the memories of all those who’ve come before me. Eve is looking up, and she seems lost in thought, dazzled by the beauty of this golden tree that holds the secrets of so many. In her urge for more, she takes an apple and bites it, its sweet juices dripping down her chin. And it makes her see the truth behind her destiny. Then when God arrives to shame her, punish her undisclosed desire, she is able to see his real divinity. He lied when He said they would die. He was just using reverse psychology. With his punishment of pain, he makes her stronger and tells her what giving life is.

Sitting underneath a tree, during the seventeenth century, Isaac is puzzled by gravity. His mathematics only speak the truth, and all the data that he has aligns with it, and yet the movement of this Earth makes no sense to him. Although he knows that the Sun is big, the planet round, the sky and stars endless, there is too much mystery behind this Universe. He needs to define the earthly processes, in order to connect with

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the extraterrestrial and know. And then the ripe fruit falls off, and it hits him. “We have accumulated such great knowledge, but there is so much more we need to know.” Like old Socrates, Steven in his garage is baffled by reality. He wishes everyone had a chance to see, so that we can save our humanity. So he comes up with a way to give access to everything we have, to everyone there is. He creates a machine that can compute what we can’t perceive and lay it out for us in a compelling manner that would trigger any one’s curiosity. “What a beautiful composition,” I think, “how the purple of my Apple, matches the green of the real one and the two seem to be falling into the rift.” I wish there was a way for that to happen, combine something that does not exist with some matter. We have surpassed limits unimaginable and have achieved so much. But the thirst still lasts: there are so many questions that haven’t been asked and so many answers that need collaboration, effort, and passion. I take my laptop and a bite from the apple, and dive into an augmented reality.

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The Fortuneteller Shenuka Corea Black crayon on paper

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Lupine

Zoe Jane Patterson Tethered and snarling, a girl gone lupine

Refusing food he offers through the cage.

Strips of a crime; hare meat soaked in brine

Slaughtered that morning at too young an age. Older wolves warned her: don’t get caught in traps. Don’t think they won’t wear your pelt like a prize When his gun is through with you. He will wrap Himself in your warmth under moonless skies. Wanting to free her, afraid where she’d roam, He lies outside of her cage on his side.

Sniffing, careful, she’s thrown; he smells like home Unwillingly warms to his eyes gone wide. With him she lies. Stray of her feral side.

His eyes are brown like fawns, like bear cub hide.

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Romanticized Pain Tala Nassar

Today, I tried to drown my sadness For I have recently lost a home I do not have a country I can call my own

You are no longer

My crying shoulder Today, I tried to drown my sadness In art

And space

And cigarettes

And your matches Today, I tried to drown my sadness in art But a spider fucking crawled on me

And your matches don’t work for shit Fuck you

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Helminth 1 Laura Waltje

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Helminth 2 Laura Waltje

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Makedonska

Esad Babačić Trudiš se,

ki si jim verjel,

luč v predsobi brli,

ko te hočejo povozit,

Pišeš domov,

Vse dolgove do prvega,

čeprav ga ne praznuješ,

do sebe in sveta,

v katerih ne boš živel,

Tudi smrt zamuja

ne boš navijal,

Z neba padajo rože,

tisti, ki te ponižujejo.

namesto dežja.

vse položnice do prvega,

zdaj pa se jim umikaš,

dokler se ne ustavi kri.

ker si prepočasen.

vsak božič,

vse obveznosti

gradiš stolpnice,

ker ti nikdar ne zamudiš.

stadione, na katerih

in ta prekleti mir zamuja.

hotele, v katerih bodo spali

težke, bele rože,

Trudiš se, da ne bi bil preveč na očeh, ker ne želiš, da bi opazili

tvojo žalost,

samo zdravnici lahko potožiš,

kako ti je hudo,

kako se zbujaš ponoči in kričiš sam nase,

ker si se tako trudil in na svoje otroke,

ker so te poslušali. Gradil si ceste

in hiše za tiste,

60


The Macedonian

Translated by Grega Ulen You struggle,

you trusted,

the lamp in the anteroom flickers

when they want to drive you over

You write home,

All the debts by the first,

yet you don’t celebrate,

towards yourself and the world

in which you won’t live,

Even death is late

you won’t cheer,

Flowers are falling from the sky,

those who humiliate you will sleep.

instead of rain.

all the bills before the first,

but now you get out of their way

until blood stops.

because you’re too slow.

every Christmas,

all your responsibilities

you build skyscrapers

because you’re never late.

stadiums at which

and this damned peace is late.

hotels in which

heavy, white flowers

You try

to go unnoticed

because you don’t want your sadness to be seen,

you can only complain to your doctor

about how bad you feel,

about waking up at night and shouting at yourself for struggling so hard and at your children for listening to you. You built roads

and houses for those

61


Starry Night Body Art Tala Nassar

62


Orbit

Zoe Jane Patterson The bats do swing on invisible string Echo-locating on paper-thin wings.

They are strung from the pinprick stars, twinkling They orbit lamplight—eat fluttering things. You step onto the street to be my scout.

I totter on the sidewalk’s edge entranced.

What happens to the bats if lights go out?

You stand awash in lamplight and romance. An engine’s roar, a tire’s screech, a scream— My own. The lights are out the air is gone. That is until I wake from sleepless dream, My eyes open to your laughter like dawn. ‘Honey that car was very far away,” I’ll pull you to the sidewalk anyway.

63


Raw María José Alonso

64


a City Girl to the Boy Back Home Emma Kay Tochi i miss you. the stars look different here. the people don’t ask me how my day is, and they don’t care if i make it home safe. it’s so big, and yet there is no air to breathe. i wish i could hold your hand. the rain makes the streets look so much nicer. i think rain has a way of doing that. 4 am here is different than our 4 am— it’s not as soft anymore, and i think my apartment has a leak. maybe you can come visit? the flowers have bloomed now. i think there’s something special about flowers that grow through concrete; i guess they just loved the sun that much. i missed the train today. this doesn’t feel like the movies. i’m sorry i haven’t written lately. the city is so bright, and the cars are so loud, i can’t seem to get my words in order. i hope you understand. the stars don’t look the same, but the night isn’t as dark— so maybe it’s alright. 22:32 65


Chucho Luis Carlos Soto

66


Adam big problem Ahmad Yacout

67


stunner Vamika Sinha you filter every pixel pore you angle yourself thin my darling, which do you love more? the girl on the screen or the girl in your skin?

68


Time Lapse Teona Ristova

69


Oma’s Hands Laura Waltje

70


Schlaff Weiter Laura Waltje My grandfather is buried in a new section of the graveyard, in a small clearing in the old growth trees, where urns are interred. The parcels

are demarcated, but many lack the little stone or plaque. Opa rests at a corner. On his grave there are votive candles and flower arrangements. Oma and I stand before it, her hands are clasped in prayer, mine are

stuck deep into my pockets. As she is quietly praying, Oma’s handbag slips from her shoulder and she pushes it back up, not minding the

interruption. Her concentration and consciousness are with her God and her husband. She finishes her prayer with “So dann schlaff weiter.” Water has pooled in the tops of the votive candles, in spite of their

covering. Oma lights the two already on the grave, but does not place the one in her handbag. “I’ll replace it when the others are gone.” The wind is

so strong from behind her that the candles keep blowing out and I crouch down to shield her and the candles, so she can place and cover them.

Then she gets out a napkin and wipes down the plaque and picks off the

dead leaves and dried flowers. His little parcel of land is well kept and him within it. “Alright, keep sleeping.”

One day Oma will lie there next to him, she tells me on the way home. I

tell her I want to be burned and buried with a tree, the tree being my only grave marker.

71


Settle

Alice Huang

72 72


Vespers at San Miniato Alyssa Yu

73


Let’s go,

Let’s go for a change of air, habeebi.

Let’s go to the beach,

I want to feel the sand. Oh I forget,

We really really can’t. I feel trapped.

Let’s go out to the streets, barefoot,

I need to feel the cement. Let’s go, ya albi,

Let’s go for a change,

Let’s go to teta’s backyard,

I want to touch the olives there. Let’s go sweetie, Let’s leave this, This….

This.

Let’s leave darling,

I want to experience

The everything that is nothing related to this.

Let’s leave habeebi, Meshan Allah,

I can’t breathe.

Let’s hop on a plane, Let’s go.

This is what I need.

I don’t want to be here

They don’t want us to be here,

74


We don’t want them to be here, Bas ya albi they won’t leave, Let’s go yalla, I’ll pack—

Let’s not lie and promise, To come back,

Let’s just leave,

I’ll hold your hand, If that’s what you Need

Please. From Under the Occupation Lina Elmusa

75


Horizon Luis Carlos Soto

76


Armor Alice Huang

77


Remembering Kuala Lumpur Tzy Jiun Tan

First date with French man

Drugs, baguettes, wispy beard. Save me! One new dress wasted Hipster cigarettes

Broken roads meet shiny buildings Forgotten footsteps Smoke invade lips

Your face and mine, touching hands Paper in water

Chewing restlessness

Red papers and tangerine dreams Paper in water

Twin towers sky

Business people walking busy Baby teething coos

Guitar strings tremble

New faces, new scars, new windows She stood up and left

Burning hot sun flexes

Hits sturdy bridge, a homeless man Tries to remember

78


Ugly feet, wrinkles

Begging for money scraps again Son in jail for drugs

Big fat billboards scream

Christmas season sales, ringing phones Tired mother buys doll Home beside railroad

Daily rumbling with daily screams Six children, no face Work day traffic jam

Honking cars, chicken rice in trunk Anticipate your smile

79


Throwback Luis Carlos Soto

80


It Comes in Pieces Vamika Sinha

My skin was always too tight. The better the

chocolate, the more bitter the aftertaste. I am ashamed by inches. He said you were soft

leaves

and he was not expecting it. No one has been able to touch you. 15 is full of holes and now you will fill them with sugar. Clinics reminded me

of the imperfections. I romanticized my own fault lines but at least I was not an earthquake. I imagined him saying that a curved spine is more

interesting than a straight one but he did not exist. Can’t breathe when

it’s happening. Once you had three slices of cake, you’ve been looking back ever since. He asks me if I need a goddamn sonnet proclaiming

my beauty. To be naked is to be free is to be unseen. I scrolled through Facebook pictures and wept. Yes, I need proof, but I do not say it.

Fashion is a masquerade. Poetry is a glass. A girl is a price and you are paying it.

dew

You collected the shiniest shells on the beach.

Nothing is lonelier than reading a textbook at night. Solitude by the sea, solitude in a snow globe. My

mother told me to think of those below you. Tears are salt are ocean

are wombs. The girls said you were bossy and you learned to twist your mouth like theirs. That seagull was like a scrap of paper. I write about

being jagged but do not accept it. The color blue, is it cold or warm? My

mother fed me honey and cinnamon when I was sick, hot and sticky on a

steel spoon. I didn’t know friendship was an acidic substance. How many

followers do you have? The wine looked like blood and tasted worse. She was Ariel and you understood. You are startled by the sky every summer,

81


it is honey blue. She cut her indigo braids then went to write her SATs.

Depression is dyeing your lungs the same shade as the evening and she looked at you and nodded. Landlocked countries make us caged birds that do not sing.

Blinded, I can see the light. So this is how it feels to be bathed by the

stage. The poetry comes through the cracks. Applause. Thank God tears

honey

can’t be heard. I did it, I did it, I did it. The notes are

streaming, painting, streaking across the air and it is all for me. Jazz is a palette of colors. Love me.

They have said that music can transport the soul and shake off skin. If you are a musician, you must be an alchemist. I hear paintings, I

see songs. Mortal to immortal. What is your aspiration in life? Devenir

immortel puis mourir. I pin and find my dreams in Google images. 18 will

always be radical. I am afraid to say that one of my goals in life is simply to love and be loved.

82


Ballerina Tala Nassar Ink on arches paper 83


Collect Yunbo Wu

84


Winter Juggler Suraiya Yahia

85


Marseille Fish Alyssa Yu

86


Lac Rose, Senegal Roland Folkmayer

87


The Head of the Table Salha Al Ameri

I see them draping her bird-like body in a shroud. I later see the men, in their all white paying their respect to my grief-stricken uncle. Their

voices are but mere whispers of “our condolences,” “our apologies”—

why apologize I wonder? Should I wave my hand exclaiming to my uncle to accept their apology? Or should he thank them? But more whispers

continue to flood my ears, whispers that say “to God we belong and to Him we return.”

It is not the fear of death, nor is it the fear of grief, rather it is the time to grief. In Islam we are only permitted three days to mourn, which means you have 72 hours to carry the heavy body through the stages of grief. After the passing of 4,320 minutes you have to drop the body at the

seventh stage: acceptance. There is wisdom behind it, I believe. Maybe

God doesn’t want us to carry the body until our muscles ache and bones

strain because we’re too fragile. Maybe we can’t be like Atlas, but instead of the world we carry a body, a life that was.

Suffice to say, I grieve: I grieve for more than 3 days, for even more than 3 months. I smoke in heartbreak like a chimney. I let my grief punch me unconscious, skin me and wear me. I make my grief a human; I let it

consume me. But how could I not? When she died with no warning sign.

She was old, but not old enough to die. She experienced all of life, but not enough of it to tell you the difference between a peach and a nectarine

—the variant is but one gene. She was my soul guardian, rather than sole guardian. She feed me, dressed me, hugged me, and sent me to sleep. She encouraged me, scolded me, cautioned me and sent me to learn. She was the best half of a mother, and the best half of a father.

88


My mind’s eye becomes blurry; the tears fog it up. The men like an ocean of moonlight line up for prayer in the mosque. In a sea of white I can’t

tell where the line begins or ends. They pray, while she lays there also

dressed in white. But her shroud is the white of pain. It’s the white of a once beautiful dark eye getting clouded with blindness. It’s the white of pale skin that’s never seen the light of day. It’s the white of broken porcelain.

Suddenly I’m in a room full of women, women in black with mournful eyes to match. The women sit together, they huddle together in the living room

and whisper about the weather. Some try to grab the attention of a tearful

eye with a funny story, while others stare pointedly at a relative they never met before. But they all grieve in their own way, some decide to pull you

aside and share your grief for a millisecond, some grieve your grief, while others came every morning for three consecutive days to dispel some more grief in on you—in case your grief wasn’t enough.

But soon, without your noticing, things start going back to normal.

Like when the snow settles on the bottom of a snow-globe, everything else settles too. Suddenly your emotions feel a little less like a tangled

necklace that’s choking you, and a little more like a ring that’s a size too big. Soon the family plucks up the courage and gathers again for lunch, not in my grandmother’s house. She’s died. But in my aunt’s house, her

eldest child. One by one we all make our way into her house; we gather in the living room and wait for lunch to be served in the dinning room across the hall. We kiss, we hug, and we high-five that one male relative that’s

too religious to remember we grew up together. We joke about that time I peed in the closet playing hide-and-seek; we marvel at the latest news notification and make our way to the dining room. We each pull a chair

out to take a seat. Spoons, knives and forks orchestrate their clinks and

clanks. A bowl of soup spills two seats down on my left, while a knife falls

89


cluttering on the floor on my right. The salt and pepper shakers zigzag

their way through different hands, while someone’s nephew cries for fries instead of fish, another’s daughter yelps for a glass of that pink juice on the other end of the table.

Across the table, I catch my uncle’s eyes gazing into the distance, lost.

I question his state as he blinks at me, finally aware that I was speaking to him. “What?” he asks, as opinions of politics and comments about

the weather were flung over our head. “What are you thinking about?” I repeat. “My mother,” he whispers. Words float mid-sentence around us, comments were left limping, and breaths were held. Bewildered

silence settles itself on the table. And I suddenly remember: I remember the grief and how my body felt like it smacked into a pool of cold water. I remember how the pit of my stomach felt like an empty void. The

cast around my heart shatters and falls hopelessly, leaving behind a

broken heart. My eyes start clouding, and I feel a shadow wave in the

distance. I blink, folding my eyes into themselves and I focus only to see my grandmother sitting at the head of the table, with her golden burqa

perched on the tip of her nose, waving for my attention. My grandmother, full of life was extending her arm for my plate demanding to serve me more salad because I was looking too pale.

90


Morocco 3 Yunbo Wu

91 91


Od/ločitve

Boris A. Novak 1

Decisions

Translated by Grega Ulen 1

Vsaka odločitev

Every decision

boli.

it hurts.

je ločitev:

2

is a division:

2

Med zemljo in nebom

Between the earth and the sky

Med gozdom in poljem

Between the forest and the field

Med hišo in cesto

Between the house and the street

in vrt.

and the garden.

izberi obzorje.

izberi jaso.

izberi hišo in cesto In vrt. 3

choose the horizon.

choose the glade.

choose the house and the street And the garden. 3

Med soncem in luno

Between the sun and the moon

edino bitje,

the only creature

vrne v kraj

and the crescent

izberi luno,

ki se vsak mesec in krajec

svojega otroštva.

92

choose the moon,

that returns to the quarter of its childhood every month.


4

4

Med domom in potjo izberi dom:

Between home and road choose home:

na krilih hrepenenja.

 longing

itak boš do konca dni potoval

either way you’ll roam on the wings of until the end of your days.

Med potjo in domom izberi pot:

Between road and home choose road:

v svojem domotožju.

in your homesickness forevermore.

itak boš za vekomaj ostal doma

5

either way you’ll stay at home

5

Med dvema avtomobiloma

Between two cars

Med dvema avtomobiloma

Between two cars

Med dvema avtomobiloma

Between two cars

ki te bo popeljal v rojstni kraj.

that will take you to the place of birth.

izberi hojo čez polje.

izberi konja.

izberi vlak,

choose walking through the field.

choose the horse.

choose the train

Med dvema avtomobiloma

Between two cars

in zaveslaj proti večerni zarji,

and row towards the evening dawn

izberi čoln

ki drhti na vodi. 6 Če si mislec,

med črko in duhom izberi duha:

choose the boat

that quivers on the water. 6 If you’re a thinker,

between letter and spirit choose spirit:


če je duh resničen, bo tudi črka

if the spirit is true, the letter will be true

 prava.

  as well.

Če si pesnik,

If you’re a poet,

če je črka prava, bo tudi duh

if the letter is true, the spirit will be true

med črko in duhom izberi črko:

between letter and spirit choose letter:

  resničen.

  as well.

Če si duhovnik,

If you’re a priest,

med črko in duhom izberi srce.

7 Med dvema prijateljema izberi

between letter and spirit choose the  

heart.

7 Between two friends choose the one

 tistega,

  who speaks less.

Med dvema nasprotnikoma izberi

Between two enemies choose the

šibki nasprotniki so bolj nevarni,

weaker enemies are more dangerous

ki manj govori.

  močnejšega:

  stronger one:

ker v boju dajo vse od sebe.

because they fight until the end.

8

8

za Sarajevo, 1992-95

for Sarajevo, 1992-95

Med ljudmi, ki jim pomagaš,

Between the people you help

ne izbiraj.

don’t choose.

Če že moraš izbrati,

If you must choose,

ki te zaradi pomoči ne bodo

who won’t hate you for helping.

izberi tiste,

  sovražili.

94

choose the ones


Če so v hudi stiski,

If they’re in great distress

Da si izbran zato,

You are chosen

pa vedi, da si prav ti izbran. da ne izbiraš:

pomagaj tudi njim, ki te sovražijo.

know that you are chosen. not to choose:

help those who hate you too.

Dajati pomoč

Giving help

Sprejemati pomoč pomeni nemoč.

Accepting help means powerlessness.

pomeni imeti strašno moč. Odvisnost. In sovraštvo.

means having tremendous power. Dependence. And hatred.

Ti, ki prejemaš pomoč,

You who receive help

in moraš to dopustiti,

and you must let it

moraš to vedeti čeprav boli.

must know that

even though it hurts.

In ti, ki daješ pomoč,

And you who give help

in moraš to odpustiti,

and you must let it go

moraš to vedeti čeprav boli...

must know that

even though it hurts …

Zmeraj znova se boš vračal k

Again and again you’ll return to him

ki te potrebuje,

like to your deepest, open wound

 njemu,

kot v svojo najglobljo, odprto rano, kjer golo drhti njegovo in tvoje  srce...

Zanj si odgovoren na veke vekov. Amen.

who needs you

where his and your naked heart   trembles …

You are responsible for him for ever   and ever. Amen.

95


9 Meč je resnica sveta.

Močnejši pa je živi čas. 10 Meč ubije srce.

Le beseda se srca dotakne. 11

9 The sword is the truth of the world. But stronger is the living time. 10 The sword kills the heart.

Only the word touches the heart. 11

Med dvema besedama

Between two words

Med besedo in molkom

Between word and silence

Med dvema knjigama

Between two books

Med zemljo in nebom

Between the earth and the sky

Med dvema živalma

Between two animals

Med dvema otrokoma

Between two children

izberi tišjo.

izberi poslušanje.

izberi tisto, ki je bolj prašna.

izberi ptico.

izberi tisto, ki te bolj potrebuje.

izberi oba.

96

choose the quieter one.

choose listening.

choose the dustier one.

choose the bird.

choose the one that needs you more.

choose both.


Med manjšim in večjim zlom

Between the lesser and the bigger evil

Med obupom in upanjem

Between hope and despair

težje ga boš nosil.

it will be harder to bear.

ne izberi nobenega.

izberi upanje:

don’t choose either.

choose hope:

97


In Between Skyscrapers Gurgen Tadevosyan

98


Treasures of the Maze Ethan David Lee

99


Untitled

Shenuka Corea

My Brain is brimming with things I'd like,

Biting my hand like the string of a kite

On a Billowy day, the clouds afire

with a windy word "Aspire! Aspire"

And then a harsh whisper

"Little Liar"

100


Malaise on the Rooftops Suraiya Yahia

101


While You Were Singing Vamika Sinha

This is my first murder, and I need a smoke. Homicides in New Woods are as rare as snowfall in Jamaica. I spend most days at the office listening to a tinny Nina Simone on my Nokia and finding new smoking spots by

the police station. The newspaper here is incredibly thin; lost cat articles

and local sports coverage don’t require much space. The most crime we get are petty thefts and drunk driving. But today, there’s a man I need to interrogate.

“I don’t know nothing. You’ve got the wrong guy here.” Jalal “Johnny” Abadi is our primary suspect. He says it’s because he’s

Syrian and the police are racist. I remind him the whole town is brown— New Woods is largely comprised of South Asians and Arabs.

“Where were you between 6 pm and 9 pm on December 13th?” “I already told you, I was at Hallelujah, drinking with my buddies.” “And who are these buddies?” “Ali and Ram, my bros. Ask anyone.” Johnny Abadi is Syrian, but has an accent from Jersey Shore. I finger the Marlboros in my pocket and sigh.

“We just had a couple of beers, nothing more. We were there from six to eleven. Then walked back to my place and crashed. The end.”

102


The thing is, when anyone says “the end,” it’s never the end. Far from it. This is a truth so boring and predictable that it becomes tragic.

What Johnny doesn’t know is that I was there that night; I am his

witness. Seth had asked to meet me at Hallelujah Bar that Friday, so we could “talk things over.” This meant watching him drink and stutter and then drink some more for a few solid hours, while we both felt sorry for

ourselves. Johnny had been there in the back with his two friends, each of their raucous laughs tottering on the edge of full-on retching. None of them saw me; it was dark, and they were drunk. I remember Louis

Armstrong playing in the background, and I’d thought out loud that this pathetic scene in a plastered-up bar didn’t deserve such a beautiful

soundtrack. Seth had snickered like a school kid, as if the picture he was laughing at did not include him. In the background, Louis sang about

sweet and predicable things, like endless love, and this time I knew it was over.

*** I always wanted to be a jazz singer. So I became a cop. My mother never

thought anyone could sustain themselves on Billie Holiday and the blues. “You’ve got a voice, Amanda-bear. But be practical.” She’d say it with a smile that was as diluted as the cheap grocery milk in

our refrigerator. Even when she flattened my dreams, she did it feebly, as if watered-down refusal could burn any less. But it was just her style, her

way of doing things. Sometimes, I thought my mother looked at life like a bottle of nail polish that had accidentally dropped into her lap. But when

she unscrewed the cap, all the color had run thin, and there was nothing else to be done.

103


“Be practical, Amanda,” she’d say, over and over, till the words smudged out the Coltrane songs in my head. I knew when she looked at her

daughter, she didn’t see me. She saw a dashing policeman she once

desperately tried to love. I pitied her, and I pitied me. Be practical. So I

became what she asked me to, packed up my records and went away to police academy. There was nothing else to be done. *** I started dating Seth because he looked like my father. He was a

banker—a romantic in an unromantic job, was how he put it. We met at Hallelujah Bar—how ironic—at a private birthday party. This was

before near-bankruptcy cramped Hallelujah’s style and the faux-French

decorations collapsed. I had been hired to sing for the party, some frothy

karaoke to keep the mood floating. My mother didn’t know. I was 31 years old, but still couldn’t bring myself to tell her that I worked nights singing in bars, trying to outrun the gray gloom of my day job. Sometimes, I think if

my mother had to face another big shock, she would lose her half-hearted grip on things and simply evaporate.

The bar pulsed that night, a beating haze of a party. I tried to sing to the

sweating blur, each body veiled by a cloud of marijuana and sin. But from

the stage, Seth was unmissable; there was the straggle of dark brown hair and the abnormally large, stocky build. Disturbed and awed, I couldn’t stop looking.

Two hours later, he was by my ear, whispering, and I felt something cold and curious spread through my body.

104


“I was watching you. You were good. You were really good.” “Watching me?” “While you were singing.” I swiveled around, and he smiled, slow and gap-toothed. “Hi. I’m Seth.”

What that smile kindled, blindsided me. Our relationship, at first, seemed too well-oiled, too glaring with happiness. When I moved into his

apartment, I nearly wanted to see a mess. Seth was large and lumbering and clumsy; I could not imagine him with a drawer full of color-coded

cuff-links. But this was what being with him was—like trying to unwrap a present but never getting there, never discovering what’s really within. I

learned he liked to iron his shirts at 1:34 am. “I couldn’t sleep, babe,” he’d say. I’d roll my eyes and then roll over back to sleep, safe under a duvet

of curious contentment. My flaccid life, with its unbroken streams of noise calls, parking tickets and small talk at the station, had gained vivacity. Seth became a new case for me to solve, something I could languish

over, carefully collecting new clues, oddities, evidence—his favorite icecream flavor, the stubborn lick of hair he could never tame, the brand of biscuits he hated so I could avoid them in the supermarket. I amassed

new fragments of him and polished them over in my mind, thinking the

sum, the great, shiny debris that made up Seth, would confirm I was in love. When he looped his arm around my neck, called me “his girl” at

office parties, went to jazz shows and pretended to like it, I was sure I felt it. I was sure.

105


The first time he hit me, I was floored. It was late, and he had been angry; he was always angry these days.

A month ago, he’d lost his job at the bank, to an outsider called Toby

Agthia. They claimed he had better credentials and a real, “fresh vision.” Seth had come home silent, his body taut with unshed fury. I made tea

and we sat on opposite sides of the dinner table. He looked at me for a long time and then left.

At breakfast the next day, he came up to me and said: “I’m nothing. That guy walked in and took my place, and now I’m nothing.”

After that, he stopped spending nights at the apartment. “Where were you, Seth?” “Won’t you say anything? In the spaces of his silence, I would sing a song in my head: I’ll Be Seeing You by Billie Holiday. I had sung it the day we first met, when I saw my

father’s gap-toothed smile in his face. He was a walking warning; I should have known.

*** “You need to talk to me.” “What do you want, Amanda?”

106


“I want you to tell me where you go every night. Please. I want you to tell me why you don’t talk to me anymore. I—”

I started to cry, the knot in my throat undoing itself. Suddenly, I felt very small, very aware of my humanness. I became a little girl of five again, sobbing at the keyhole of her parents’ bedroom door. “Leave it. I have nothing to say.” “Stop lying to me. I want to know. Tell me why you’re never here, Seth. Who are you with? Who do you see?”

I watched him, pathetic with hysteria. We were a cheap tragedy, a clichéd adultery plot of a D-list film.

“I told you I have nothing to say.” “That’s a lie! That’s a lie and you know it.” “What the fuck has gotten into you? I told you there’s nothing to tell!” “You’re lying to me, Seth! I don’t fucking give a shit anymore, just tell me the truth! Tell me who you go to fuck every night. Tell me her name! Tell me which whore you drown your sorrows with—”

And then I was on the floor, the apartment spiraling. The first person I thought of was my mother. I raced to be everything

she was not and still I failed; it was almost laughable. In the dim light of

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the bedroom, I felt my eye purple like a fat grape. I must have been the spitting image of her on the night of her wedding.

The thing is, we always end up like our parents. This is a truth so boring and predictable that it becomes tragic. *** My mother was wrong about the blues, I think, as Johnny gabbles on

in front of me in the interrogation room. She was wrong because I may

not be singing them anymore, but that doesn’t mean they’ve left. In the mornings, I wake up to find a shard of ice inside my chest, so cold and thick that nothing could ever break it. I didn’t choose to become this person, to be something I didn’t want to be.

“I didn’t do it, okay? D’you hear me? I didn’t do it.” I look at Johnny, at his hair gelled up into a choppy hedge on the top of his head, and his long fingers that could’ve skimmed across a piano in

another life. He stares back at me and the Louis Armstrong tune from that fateful Hallelujah night, swims into my head. The song that was playing the night Toby Agthia was murdered: a soundtrack for a killing.

Ever since I got this murder case, I can’t help but smell plumes of blood,

like warm metal, in sudden moments. I smell it in the apartment. I smell it

when we go to see Toby Agthia’s body in the morgue, as part of this sham investigation. I smell it in facts. Time of murder: 6.30 pm.

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I smelt it when he used to come to bed drunk and dig his fingernails into

my flesh. When I finally ran away from the apartment, just before the sun

cracked the sky open in the morning, the smell followed me to the station, slept in my clothing, whispered in my sleep and rested in my hair. It was everywhere Seth touched me. It hasn’t left me since.

“Thank you, Mr Abadi. You can go now.” I watch Johnny leave the interrogation room and feel the shard of ice

splintering in my chest. He’d only been arrested because the most likely

person to commit homicide, according to the New Woods police force, is “troublemaker” Johnny with the criminal record.

But we never really needed to question him. Hadn’t I known from the beginning? Hadn’t I realized it yet?

*** It is 7.30 pm. Friday night at Hallelujah. I’ve been waiting for Seth for

over an hour; of course he is late for the ending. When he enters, I see

his hands are shaking. I am struck again by how much he looks like my father. It is fitting that he’s going to leave me then, fitting that he teems with the hidden capability to wound, to destroy.

Louis Armstrong plays in the background. Most days, the only times I feel the shard inside me thawing is when I listen to jazz. It’s as if somebody’s

poured warm syrup over my thoughts and suddenly, life feels softer, more pliable, like I could finally melt down its hardness and hold it in my hands.

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While the song flows around us, Seth drinks, his hands still trembling.

Johnny and his friends laugh behind us. I think I smell a twinge of blood,

like warm metal, in the air—I’m probably a little drunk. I notice something about Seth is wrong tonight, off-kilter like a painting hung wrong. I keep drinking.

Outside, unknown to me, a man lies dead: Toby Agthia, from Singapore. Toby Agthia, who stole Seth’s job. Toby Agthia, who caused three

destructions without knowing it—Seth’s, mine, and his. Later, as Johnny is released, I will remember this, remember Seth’s shaking hands, the panic in his beer breath, the hurt he carried in his fists. My mind will

scrabble with thought-creatures, fat with the blood of realization. I will remember everything.

But for now, the night deepens and we get drunker. For now, I am

unaware. Louis Armstrong sings in the background, something about endless love.

It is a liberation, a killing, an ending.

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BOVA ŠE ENKRAT VSTALA OD MRTVIH tudi najin zadnji poskus samomora ni uspel zdaj se poljubljava sredi bolniške sobe stoječ drug drugemu na cevi za kisik Josip Osti

WILL WE RISE FROM THE DEAD ONCE AGAIN our last suicide attempt didn’t succeed either now we’re kissing in the middle of the hospital room standing on each other’s oxygen tube Translated by Grega Ulen

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Shreezus Ahmad Yacout

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Bajii

Luis Carlos Soto

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Expressionist

Shenuka Corea

Expressionist,

Frida, Column of pain in the desert,

Coatlicue, pierced with a shard of mirrored glass, Veiled by a curtain of snakes and monkey’s tailsCoil around your club foot like vines;

Vincent, A harvest of deathly yellow, Strains of stars and ripened corn, Circling the brim of your hat

In the dark echoes of that corridor;

Munch, Waves of languid melancholy, Eyes wax and wane like the moon, In a sudden gush of restless fervor

The cauldron of the sea bubbles and breaks;

Klee, A reef city of blocks where

The machinery whistles and ticks

And wiry forms flit under the surface, An angel shifts its gaze.

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Dynamics Teona Ristova

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Arrivals and Departures Vamika Sinha

I remember a journey I once took. Well, actually, it was just two weeks ago. Somehow, all “intense” life

experiences only seem to happen in the random moments. You’ll come

home from school one day and realize that your mother has wrinkles. She has wrinkles and the sun is setting and you are getting older but she is

getting old and we are all aging all the time. The kind of aging that Olay

face cream can’t fix—but what can face cream fix anyway? Or you’ll be

making toast at 4 pm on some blind Tuesday, and that’s it—you’re in love. You discover, first-hand, that all the love songs and poems had to have come from somewhere and maybe it’s this feeling of half-soaring, halffalling inside your chest that won’t go away. Even when you’re making goddamn toast on a goddamn Tuesday.

It’s still a Tuesday at home, when the plane lands in the blue fog of Abu Dhabi. Half-soaring, half-falling. The lights and buildings are seemingly sparser than in Dubai, which is where everyone lands on their way

to somewhere else. People back home always thought and probably

still think I am coming to Dubai. It’s all they know of this region—

Dubai, the lone, glittery pearl in a swath of sand. Flash. Glitter. Bang. I don’t bother telling them that they’re wrong. “It’s Abu Dhabi, not Dubai,” I say a dozen times. Like hitting the edge of the bullseye, but not quite. Not quite.

I walk down the aisle of the plane. Cabin trolleys, sticky hands, little

children, neck pillows. How ordinary, how mundane. I have made the

most radical change in my life, and all I can think about is the shade of purple on a neck pillow.

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I’m sure I’m going to write about this, maybe not tonight but sometime. It’s my great adventure, my new beginning; I keep murmuring, “This is

it.” Cloying, clichéd words on starting over, on clean slates and finding

success. I expect the rest of me to follow suit, to fill out these words with color and feeling, to intensify this blank newness into vivid novelty. But I feel nothing. Half-soaring, half-falling. It’s as if my heart decided not to come along with me; it closed its eyes and, when I wasn’t looking,

crawled into my old bed-covers in Botswana, refusing to uproot itself.

I walk out of the plane, someone’s purple neck pillow in the corner of my eye. I have uprooted myself.

*** The first thing I feel is a wall of heat. It is so oppressive, so forbidding,

so totally and completely hot and alien, that for a flash-second, I think of running back into the plane and cowering amongst the economy seats. The air hostess behind me is all red lipstick and white teeth and clean,

bright future. My glasses fog up, and I cannot see. I have a strange urge to laugh and cry all at once. Opaque vision now. I’m walking into my future, my new life, blind blind blind.

Waiting for me are bedsheets so invitingly white, they put the clinically pretty window-view to shame. I sit down, in my new bedroom, my

luggage at my feet like a bomb crater, the bookshelves gasping for

something, anything, but emptiness. This is it. Yes, I have made it. This

is the dream. There is no music, no fanfare, but only the hum of the airconditioning. “This is it,” it says to me.

On the way to campus, my mother had spoken in Hindi to the taxi driver.

She had asked him if he’s happy here, and I know she did not ask for him

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but for me. It suddenly strikes me that I will have to learn how to miss my mother. Any day, I would rather take calculus.

Instead, I think about my friends. Their letters are as white as my pillowcase. Hasty farewells, hasty ink.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever see each other again.” There is a tumbleweed in my throat, gathering hurt by the second. It

tumbles and I crumple. I don’t know if we’ll ever see each other again.

How lonely this is. I didn’t think it would be this lonely. Final hugs in the

departure lounge. Seeing my father cry for only the second time in my life.

Carrying luggage that is too heavy because I packed too many novels and too many clothes, and now I think I packed too much of my memory too. Half-soaring, half-falling. This is it.

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Beijing

Yunbo Wu

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Hanging Footsteps Ethan David Lee

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My War

Lina Elmusa There’s a constant, ongoing war, In my head.

A crash of worlds, A clash of words.

There’s a constant, ongoing translation, in my head.

From English to Arabic,

‫من العربي لإلنجليزي‬

My mind is wounded, aching,

yearning for peace.

Language is a huge part of culture,

My language and culture lost the battle. I am passionate about literature— About words,

About putting words up on a pedestal And watching them make love, To one another.

But it’s not that beautiful of a process, When English quickly creeps on your Arabic vocabulary,

and teaches you how to tell a true war story. My mind waged

a war of translation.

The Arabic alphabet barely scrapes through, Because it’s up against a strong opponent,

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English— Vibrant,

Desired,

easily communicated, Alive …

The tongue of cosmopolitanism, The tongue of globalization.

“Ugh, I know that word in English, but I can’t remember it in Arabic.”

My mother tongue,

My mother’s tongue, My native language,

‫لغة الضاد‬

The language that’s used Across two continents, Differently.

“That word, that word cannot Be translated into English,”

So much is lost in translation— My ideas are lost in translation, My feelings, My beliefs,

—I’m lost in translation.

My language does not truly Represent me.

I do not represent my language.

I am ashamed of my poor Arabic grammar, I hate my limited English vocabulary,

My dad’s disappointed because I prefer, American poetry.

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My mind is on a guilt spree— But this war, has to end, All wars end eventually. But, beware,

No war ever ends beautifully.

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Word Count Alyssa Yu

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Fifteen Years in 100 Words Mani

20th August, 2000 My first day of kindergarten. I remember waving goodbye to Mama from across the school gates. She burst into tears

as I blew her a flying kiss. I remember seeing her sitting longingly by the

swings, as I looked out my classroom

window. She was clearly having a hard time letting go.

23rd August, 2015 I waved goodbye and blew her a flying kiss once more. This time from across

the terminal gates. I have now set off to

find a home in between the sand dunes. Sadly, my college in the Middle East doesn’t have swings.

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The Road from Every Year

Muhammad Shehryar Hamid I was on the same road,

the sky of a different color.

The trees cast different shades, the time of a different order.

The beeping of the ventilator,

my father on the hospital bed. No later, the sky cried;

my eyes wept and the road drenched. The driver told me I’m almost there. Was it the seventh time?

Another call I placed on my mother’s cellphone, but all access denied.

Had I not been countries apart, I would be on his side.

I would walk him to the dinner table, let the wheelchair be not his son. The rain was now ever powerful, the driver hit a gazelle.

The airport road could not have been any longer, my plane had flown.

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Corners of Dubai Flavia Cereceda

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Airport Road 05  

The Spring 2017 issue of the NYUAD student creative journal.v

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