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AIRPORT ROAD NYU Abu Dhabi 19 Washington Square North New York, NY 10003


Send inquiries to: Cyrus R. K. Patell Publisher Airport Road NYU Abu Dhabi PO Box 903 New York, NY 10276-0903


© 2018 Electra Street

Front and Back Cover Images: Details from On a Ferry by Tom Abi Samra

Nada Almosa Julián Carrera Rosy Tahan Salha Al Ameri Einas Alhamali Amal Al Shamsi Bhrigu Bhatra Sadaf Habib Mashal Memon Jamie Uy


Viswanath Chandrasekar


Sachi Leith


Deborah Lindsay Williams


Cyrus R. K. Patell

Issue 07 Spring 2018

CONTENTS PROSE Alice Huang, Bill’s Place 17

Vamika Sinha, arrangements 18

Vamika Sinha, in a bathroom at the silver center 23

Zoe Patterson, Untitled 56

Muhammad Shehryar Hamid, In Remembrance 59 Leanne Talavera, Supposedly 66

Shamma Al Bastaki, Concave 68

Archita Arun, to the place that did not keep me 76 Tan Tzy Jiun, Duality 81

Shamma Al Bastaki, Unoiled Lungs 82

Zoe Patterson, Mother 24

Arthur De Oliveira, Green, Green, and Gone 85

Alice Huang, Contemplation 48

Leanne Talavera, Indigo 86

Thirangie Jayatilake, Broken Waves 42 Neha John, Notes of sands from home or

Rosy Tahan, Between, a Haiku 85 Tan Tzy Jiun, Baguettes 92

buildings, buildings, buildings 62

Sabrina Zhao, Lady Rocket in Israel 94

Muhammad Shehryar Hamid, Plastic Overdose 70

Arthur De Oliveira, Oh Look! A Street Fair! How Nice! 104

Amna Alharmoodi, 19 65

Lauren You, Dear Korea 96

Alice Huang, Simmer 79

Arthur De Oliveira, Self-Diagnosing Missingness in the Body 110

Smrithi Nair, Girl Surprises All, Saves the World 99

Amal Al Shamsi, On My Spine, a Manual 115


Aiman Khurram, To Be a Woman 126

evgenija filova, poem for a place 10


Aiman Khurram, Untitled 26

Asma Balfaqih, Soccer Euphoria 9

Vamika Sinha, in a sentimental mood 89 Aiman Khurram, My Pillow Book 121

Shamma Al Bastaki, Unibrow 13

Zoe Patterson, A Beats on the Beach True Story 28

Amal Al Shamsi, Serendi Pity 113

Tan Tzy Jiun, To Be Read Aloud 117 Amal Al Shamsi, Wo-manual 119

Kevin Mokhtar, Endless Doorways 12

Arthur De Oliveira, Being Eaten Alive is Unlike Anything Else 32

Adele Bea Cipste, Final Gathering Before Leaving for Faraway Places 15

Shamma Al Bastaki, The Sparrows Are Waiting/Shoot 36

Suraiya Yahia, ‫الدردشة‬X21

Rosy Tahan, In Your Absence I Read Sartre 35 Arthur De Oliveira, The Axolotl 38

Alia Al Jallaf, Recherché 16

Hatim Benhsain, The Other Side 22

Amal Al Shamsi, Faces of the Surface 46

Einas Alhamali (photographer) and Zainab Abdulrazzak (editor),

evgenija filova, night 52

Sherry Yongyi Wu, Deconstruction 30

Thirangie Jayatilake, Washington Square Park 50


Sabrina Zhao, To Me 55

Balloon Lens 27


VISUAL (continued)


Adele Bea Cipste, Portrait of an Old Man 31 Luis Carlos Soto, Pigeons 34 Asma Balfaqih, Vision-ary 40

Kevin Mokhtar, Rough Seas, Calm Pools 41 Tom Abi Samra, On a Ferry 47 Aya Bouhelal, Untitled 51

Tom Abi Samra, Life at Markazi 58 Adele Bea Cipste, Biting Cold 60 Asma Balfaqih, Lotus of Gold 61 Hatim Benhsain, Ragamala 64 Gábor Csapó, Smoke 67 Sreerag JR, Dirty 69

Muhammad Yasin, The Kaleidoscopic Campus! 75 Hatim Benhsain, Squeak 80

Nada Almosa, Persian Shield 84 Sabrina Zhao, 14th St 88

Valeriya Golovina, Opening Hours 91 Hatim Benhsain, United 98

Asma Balfaqih, A Thread of Hope 102

Asma Balfaqih, ‫الكحيلة‬

‫ افنان—ذات العيون‬x103

Sreerag JR, American 108

Hatim Benhsain, #jesuis 109

Luis Carlos Soto, Human 112 Luis Carlos Soto, Monito 114

Sherry Yongyi Wu, Once during Meditation 116 Suraiya Yahia, Falleras 120

Hatim Benhsain, Angelique Kidjo 125 Tom Abi Samra, Stroll 130

Life at NYU Abu Dhabi is a constant flurry of coursework, student

initiatives, capstone shows, art workshops, January Terms, internships, and volunteering. Fighting against the inklings of burnout, we struggle

to keep up with the demands of now and the expectations of tomorrow.

Deadlines become the horizon, beyond which we can’t imagine anything. In conversations with family and others back home, our city melts away

in talk of our own state as overwhelmed students. Our lives have become limited to the five kilometer radius that is the island of Saadiyat.

The flowers of the frangipani tree are in bloom on the Highline. The

construction workers are yelling back and forth around as the buildings

around our campus grow. The Yas Mall shuttle drives past different colors every time it passes Kite Beach. Turtles are laying their eggs on Saadiyat public beach, and their nests are cordoned off for protection every

Saturday 5:30 a.m. A little girl is leaning down to help flip back a beetle off its back. Theater majors sing across the campus plaza at midnight. Kids are playing football and enjoying their day together. The light of a laptop

screen reflects off the face of student huddled in a library corner, wrapped up in a blanket. The dew becomes visible on our windows at 4 a.m. An old man quietly plays pool on his own in Baraha. Who’s looking? We focus on the minutiae of work but don’t pay attention to the details of

our own, non-academic lives. There are more things in scenes and events than are dreamt of in our routines and schedules, to paraphrase The

Dane. And in want of them, who would not wish for the luck of the traveler in transit? Sitting in a ferry, disconnected from the world, forced for the



duration of the journey to take in the details of the sea, the cargo, and

the fellow passengers, the options for personal entertainment only prove effective for so long before the need to stop and take it all in takes over. Transient scenes float by and we try our best to catch them.

In this edition of Airport Road, we have collected these tiny moments,

these interludes, which achieve significance only in our inhabitation of

them. A woman blurred on a busy street, bubbles floating in Washington Square Park, a song propelling thoughts evoked by the rushing views from a train, are experiences that may not mean much in and of

themselves. But in lingering, whether as briefly as necessary to click a

shutter or as long as to craft a poem, we become aware of these human

subtleties embedded in our day-to-day lives. It is around these moments, these unexpected intrusions of beauty that we reflect upon our lives, and in doing so perhaps understand ourselves.

Nada Almosa

Juliรกn Carrera

Rosy Tahan


Soccer Euphoria Asma Balfaqih


poem for a place evgenija filova

This is a place I came out. I was coming. You caught (up) me.

we, you go

to this place

This is a place hidden. I hide it very well. You hide it from me too. It is the place of the innermost. A place private, public. a place of boundaries

is a place of recurrences

on the border

of (un) becomings


of constant influences


Is this the place of commons? A space for us and for all



This is a place unknown of not knowing of

This is a place inaccessible


is it? denied

This place I wrap in towels. Wet towels I buy for you. The towels I buy and then forget. On the shelf, unfolded. Wrinkled.

This is a place I cannot know of. Can’t you? It wouldn’t let me. I tried. I am tired.

This is a place I used to go, on Monday mornings. And Tuesdays. You

no one

sometimes would. Come with me? Together? This is a place I cannot uncover



This is a place I share with you

The place-s exhausted of emptiness. This is the (place)

Is this the place of comings?




Shamma Al Bastaki pull up your blinds you fools

look, a sullen pool

and jumping board number 6 peeking its nose

in the water’s business three men on a bench two suited up

neck ties, buttons fastened

arms crossed across their laps the leftist of the two is

squinting under a unibrow the moustache

on his upper head

is bigger than the one on his upper lip

the third of them

is wearing a polo shirt

and a spookless slouch

` Endless Doorways Kevin Mokhtar


arms clapped behind his head waggy tongue peeking out


there is a fourth man

phantomlike and plodding

sightless as an eyelash in shrapnel they cannot see him

though he sees them

through some reflective prism some semi-translucent lens his crooked jaw is shifting his crooked jaw is mine

Final Gathering Before Leaving for Faraway Places Adele Bea Cipste Watercolor on paper



Bill’s Place

Alice Huang I don’t know jazz the way those who know jazz do, though I do enjoy reading jazz.

On the trumpet

Brown velvet shoes, his stance was relaxed and gentle, but with his

powerfully puffed cheeks and the deeply locked triangle between his eyebrows, it seemed as if he eternally holds himself at the precise moment right before drowning in pleasure. On the piano

A man whose face you do not see at all but for a few fleeting moments. On the pink grid shirt that hugged his chubby back, waves of streams were pumping. At peak he was pulled up from the bench into midair because his weight was so concentrated at his fingertips. On the bass

A big man and his even bigger bass. Its thick strings and his even thicker fingers. The touch between his finger and the strings was so intimate it almost felt impolite to stare.

` Recherché Alia Al Jallaf

On the drums

If the other three were affectionate, committed lovers, he’s the vivacious,

inscrutable, mysterious lover who dances across streets, at times ecstatic and at times melancholic. If the other three were a nostalgic conversation at 1 a.m., he’s a greeting to a stranger. If the other two were a bottle of dark merlot, he’s a chilled glass of prosecco.




smooth like a bullet train. You could soften, with age and fat. You could

Vamika Sinha

become a mother.

“Are you ready?” Your mother enters the room. “He just called. He’ll be at

How will it feel when this happens?

the restaurant in twenty minutes.”

Your mother looks at you look at her in the mirror. She smiles. You want to “Yeah. Yeah, I’m almost done.”

It is the day of the meeting, and you’re in your second-best anarkali suit,

tell her things with abandon. You are 25 years old. Your mother gave birth at 26.

the scarlet one with the lace border. Your mother hovers, smoothing down

Will you whisper to him across a pillow after work? Will you tell him how

You look into the mirror together and see how she is you, but softened

with a fearless intensity, with a love devoid of cares or strings, but could

baby hairs, adjusting your necklace. She has been waiting for this day.

you always tried to love the right country (yours) and the right men (theirs)

with age and fat. It is both sweet and a pity.

not? You envied your foreign classmates who did not receive strangers’

She smiles. You smile.

You want to press this ache in your forehead away, into the disappearing

You want to ask her if she had ever been in love before your father was

You ache that this ache exists so much already because of her. You could

chosen for her.

photos in the mail as marriage offers.

well that appears only for you in the hollow of your mother’s collarbones. say it.

One summer, you tried making rotis with your mother. They kept tearing The possible scenarios unfold in your head. You imagine ordering food; you imagine balking. His smile could have

under the rolling pin. You gave up and spent the afternoon lighting and unlighting the stove to stare at the blue part of the flame.

one crooked tooth too. He could make the same expression when he’s

He could have the same crooked tooth.

hands. This could happen. How will it feel if this happens? Well, you could

You are scared you will burn.

perplexed, the two brows lifting up in the middle, like praying pilgrims’

marry him, silly. Live comfortably in Hong Kong, imagine making his food, going shopping on the weekends. You could agree to a well-oiled life,



Your mother strokes the back of your head with the back of her hand.

In the mirror, she is not your mother, and you are not her daughter. She

is an image, and you are an image in a red anarkali suit, and the images are influenced by each other the way Cezanne influenced Picasso. One instability morphing into another, tilting across generations. You smile. She smiles. When you were 10, you once pointed out how looking at another person smile in the mirror makes their face look lopsided, as if the smile is

collapsing on one side like a basket of peaches toppling. You noticed this

when you were watching your grandmother in the mirror, picking out saris for a wedding. Your mother told you to stop that. You didn’t understand how it was rude to notice very obvious things.

Maybe your mother wished your father had a crooked tooth. Maybe she

looked up at the sky as a child and asked God for an ice-cream. A helium balloon. Sometimes you watch her reading her prayer book after bathing in the morning. She often falls asleep. You wonder guilty things. That

maybe she dreams about a lost crooked tooth. Or what would happen if Krishna and the tooth fairy met. Maybe she wonders what it would feel

like to kiss, really kiss, a man with a crooked tooth. A big Bollywood kiss. It is very obvious that she is tired.


Suraiya Yahia

“There’s traffic. You should hurry up or you’ll be late,” your father says by the door. He smiles evenly.

Your mother pats your hand and kisses you on the forehead.



in a bathroom at the silver center Vamika Sinha

We listen to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme album in full for the first

time in jazz class. Our only obligation is to stay entirely focused on the music. Through its duration, I find myself drifting in and out of some

kind of meditative state—one of my old friends would have called this

“accessing the hyperconscious,” while a psychologist with a really long name that I don’t remember might have called it “flow.”

I am tempted to write poems made out of planets and color. Coltrane plays on.

After the album ends, I do not say anything. I get up and go to the

bathroom, look into the mirror and start to cry. I don’t know why I am

doing this, but the crying is coming from some deep, knotty part of me

that I cannot pinpoint. Somewhere in the third movement of the album, it sounded like the saxophone was crying for help. Listen to me. God.

Listen to me. Love me. Love me. I cry harder. I know that every human on this planet, for at least one moment in their life, has become that

` The Other Side Hatim Benhsain


Ink on paper




family. Out of wedlock. Bastard child. No family without a head. Headless.

Zoe Patterson

Flighty Woman. No woman breadwinner. Alone? Lonely. Half. Empty.

She lies in a blue room with her back to the door and to the light, sighing

a father. Unmarried. A shame. A child. A girl child. A little girl child. Half

creaking, her ribcage quivers, and her oceans pool, sloshing and hushing

She’ll be older with issues. Unmarried issues. Shame to raise another

Not enough? Father’s Day card. Shame to raise another. What? Needs

in through the open sliver. She’s trying to catch sleep, but her limbs are

of. What? A father? Needs. Men’s Needs. Cater to. Sex with. Wedlock.

against her beating heart. She stitched herself together with a thin thread.

desperate. White dress. She’ll be a slut. Need a man. What? Half empty

Her seams ache.

girl. Need men. A man. Bastard child. Lonely. Too young—

Did you hear about the girl’s father? (What’s a father?) Didn’t she used to

“Mother, I don’t feel safe.”

live in this town? She’s living alone? Nobody to help her raise?

So, she pops open her chest, one stitch at a time, like a seamstress does

She hears the shower of her daughter’s footsteps and the creak of the

with a dress that needs resizing. She peels her torso in two and shuffles

eyes and feels the shy bounce of knees hitting the mattress one by one.

kisses her bones

The cautious navigation over Mother’s legs and the big eyes wide open

and they wait.

door and the sigh of the light spilling in when it’s opened. She shuts her

The grasping of the sheet, the tugging, the heaving up of the small body.

some organs around. Then she tucks the child inside, and her daughter

in the dark, pouring onto her face. Staring at her, murmuring something in childspeak. A hot hand on Mother’s cheek settles the billowing sea storms in her.

Love’s body shuffles down beside her until they’re nose to nose. When she opens her eyes, calm teeters through the shadows like a tightrope walker in the space between them.

Those things bang their hands and their heads against the side of the house. Jeering and coaxing. Quite a racket.

Too young to be a Mother. Too young. Unmarried. Shame to raise another. With Daddy issues. Daughter. Girl Needs. Father. Too young to raise.

Alone. Lonely. Woman alone. What? Need Men. Need a man. Girl needs a




Aiman Khurram Ferris Wheels and Merry-Go-Rounds.

Random strolls on on Piazza Della Repubblica, Florence. Always Florence, not Rome, never Rome. Grande latte, decaf with low fat milk. The barista’s sweet smile.

The hurriedly yet warmly scribbled “heart” or “have a nice day.” Small things that mean a lot.

“They know we are not from this place,” I whispered. “How do they know we aren’t?” he asked.

“How we look at the floor before we step: the reluctance, the resistance, the confusion,” I whispered again.

I will always be 21, I struggle when someone asks me my age. I forget that I’m 22.

Why do they ask you your age? What does it symbolize?

Wisdom, Maturity or Happiness?

I will always be 18, I will always be 20.

It takes me time but eventually I grow up and grow out.

On days when the stomach doesn’t spit acid and Abu Dhabi is cold. The wind smells of sea salt, asphalt and karak. I miss you and I miss me.

I hate the desert / the sea

Perceptions & Deceptions

Balloon Lens Einas Alhamali (photographer) and Zainab Abdulrazzak (editor)



A Beats on the Beach True Story Zoe Patterson

So here we have the elusive

When her guard is down,

Splayed out at a concert

And whisper something like

Ankles crossed

With a grin that shows all your

In a tight protective circle.

She’s sure to shout

It takes an Expert Man to

And hop right into your lap.

Female Creature

Get right behind her

Legs tired

“What do you want?”

Her and her pack-mates

Yellow teeth.


Approach her

Allow me to demonstrate: First you crouch, alone

About a meter from the pack.

Pretend to be watching the concert. Hop a little closer And a little closer

Female Creatures Are jumpy Move Slow



` Deconstruction Sherry Yongyi Wu Pen and ink on paper 30

Portrait of an Old Man Adele Bea Cipste Pastel on paper 31

Being Eaten Alive is Unlike Anything Else Arthur De Oliveira

Among the company of cannibals

A blotch of Yellow and Green

From the sun’s crescent descending

In the vast concrete mountains of death

came Julio, my non-Hispanic parrot

My skin melts on a popsicle stick; Julio, I— 5

On the subject of Lime vs Lemon2

Like velcro—my arm is torn apart, slowly


Limes amongst Lemons is how

botanical delicacies are seasoned by cross fit enthusiast, Sergio

Within a heart, acidic juices have passion

This gave away the people’s good taste, as sweat formed above my lips6

His peck scratched a thought on my head

In the fast pace of the city7 the canipasserbals commended

“No Spanish !” I rotate for a lighter roast on my neck.

“Ouch,” I screech—Julio replies, “El Ouch”

I wrote an expression in Comic Sans4

“No,” I say—Julio squawks, “El Ouch, Los No”

“El squawk!” breaks his beak open—an inch apart 3

The good taste, but the seasoning makes it better

She replied through a quick malign

Death8 is silent with a long queue to what I hope is heaven.

Look in Garamond and a smile in font nine

Julio, my non-Hispanic parrot, squawks and flies away.



Tightly observed feathers warm my heart With the something I see in you, not like anyone else. 2 Lemonade on a winter’s day with cinnamon, you compared that to me, not to anyone else. 3 Laughing cut a wound deep in me When my impressions of Kermit the Frog scared you 4 A gulp of one liners swallowed whole chuckles And cheap comedy on the basis of insults, with silent answers.


6 7 8

Howling exchanges compacted with images Of which nouns make up nonexistent parts of me My mixed bowl of quinoa, fried kale and meat Sat on the tongue of an unfamiliar language Screaming acoustic Graffiti that smell like urine is chosen over the cold winds that bring in pollen I am waiting for the punchline of your presence I wait not like anyone else. Only I see that in you.


In Your Absence I Read Sartre Rosy Tahan

The first human discovery was that of absence. Fire came only after the widening of the caves.

Anguish is a fire under the expansive world’s daylight. Anguish is also the future’s demand of a freer being. To lie next to you is an ontological question. To lie to you is self-unawareness.

I lie by the omission of your body from my bed.

A digital togetherness is a relational beguilement. We whisper in blue light what’s only real in breath.

I can’t know if I’m choosing you or not being apart. Sartrean bad faith is the blindness to innate freedom. I have cities and possibilities, but still I cave to yours.

Sartre would oppose us calling each other “compelling.”

Existence precedes essence; mine your potential presence. Denying love’s contingency is an act of bad faith.

Still I misuse my freedom and subtractively sculpt you.

` Pigeons

Luis Carlos Soto



The Sparrows Are Waiting / Shoot Shamma Al Bastaki

itch my amber bottomed feet

nose on camera, Nasser

this areesh bed is

your finger is trembling



the fronds are drier

tell me when to close my lips

the powder is broken

the sparrows are waiting

creakier than your

the sparrows are waiting shoot the photograph so you can shoot

than the farm goats’ throats in mid July

so I can shoot

pass me my rifle

take my Tokyo tongued camera

take a Tokyo tongued photograph capture the carnival in my eyes! I will smile small

can you hunch your spine? like this?

hang the rifle between your striped pants barely bell-bottomed yet let your rifle be a stripe

like this? I will turn my ear to you

one ear

one knee


one elbow


The Axolotl

Arthur De Oliveira If1 only2 feathered3 Gills4 were5 the6

Which54 swims55 inside56 the57 growing58

Muscles7 of8 my9 heart10 that11 turned12

Shades59 of 60changing61 disappointment62

Blood into wine and splinters into saw dust 13








Of63 someone64 who65 has66 a67 hard68 time69 growing70 up71

Then only can the heart 21





Until72 then73, I74 slumber75 inside76 a77 glass78 tank79

Agriculturally26 grow27 love28

And glue cracks composed of wordless actions 29






If only that little prayer 36





3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27


Seen 9:46 PM Seen 9:47 PM Seen 9:48 PM Seen 9:49 PM Seen 9:50 PM Seen 9:51 PM Seen 9:52 PM Seen 9:53 PM Seen 9:54 PM Seen 9:55 PM Seen 9:56 PM Seen 9:57 PM Seen 9:58 PM Seen 9:59 PM Seen 10:00 PM Seen 10:01 PM Seen 10:02 PM Seen 10:03 PM Seen 10:04 PM Seen 10:05 PM Seen 10:06 PM Seen 10:07 PM Seen 10:08 PM Seen 10:09 PM Seen 10:10 PM Seen 10:11 PM Seen 10:12 PM

The88 place89 I90 hope91 to92 be93 forever94 with95 you96 55

The46 hope47 around48 the49 colors50 of51 my52 iris53 2

With80 a81 little82 hope83 to84 grow85 out86 into87 54

Lasted41 a42 little43 longer44 inside45 1


28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53

Seen 10:13 PM Seen 10:14 PM Seen 10:15 PM Seen 10:16 PM Seen 10:17 PM Seen 10:18 PM Seen 10:19 PM Seen 10:20 PM Seen 10:21 PM Seen 10:22 PM Seen 10:23 PM Seen 10:24 PM Seen 10:25 PM Seen 10:26 PM Seen 10:27 PM Seen 10:28 PM Seen 10:29 PM Seen 10:30 PM Seen 10:31 PM Seen 10:32 PM Seen 10:33 PM Seen 10:34 PM Seen 10:35 PM Seen 10:36 PM Seen 10:37 PM Seen 10:38 PM

56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83

Seen 10:39 PM Seen 10:40 PM Seen 10:41 PM Seen 10:42 PM Seen 10:43 PM Seen 10:44 PM Seen 10:45 PM Seen 10:46 PM Seen 10:47 PM Seen 10:48 PM Seen 10:49 PM Seen 10:50 PM Seen 10:51 PM Seen 10:52 PM Seen 10:53 PM Seen 10:54 PM Seen 10:55 PM Seen 10:56 PM Seen 10:57 PM Seen 10:58 PM Seen 10:59 PM Seen 11:00 PM Seen 11:01 PM Seen 11:02 PM Seen 11:03 PM Seen 11:04 PM Seen 11:05 PM Seen 11:06 PM Seen 11:07 PM Seen 11:08 PM

84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96

Seen 11:09 PM Seen 11:10 PM Seen 11:11 PM Seen 11:12 PM Seen 11:13 PM Seen 11:14 PM Seen 11:15 PM Seen 11:16 PM Seen 11:17 PM Seen 11:18 PM Seen 11:19 PM Seen 11:20 PM Seen 11:21 PM


` Vision-ary Asma Balfaqih

Rough Seas, Calm Pools Kevin Mokhtar



Broken Waves

Thirangie Jayatilake I slip the lens cap into my jean pocket and fumble with the lens, zooming

brown dog staring at him from the shore. Gray hair on his head, white

scene properly because people are blocking it from my view. Now this is

below his bulging stomach. Fishermen usually fish in deep sea in the

and uneven footprints where the waves lap back and forth, and grayish

any fish?

ground with the occasional purple flower emerging from the crunched

I scroll back a few more pictures. There he was, walking along the coast

in and out, trying to frame the picture. I hate when I can’t capture the

vest, and a sarong bent halfway upwards from his knees tied in a knot

different, there are no crowds, just a few lone figures leaving their even

morning. What was he doing in shallow water, where there are unlikely

crabs, trying to avoid the next salty wave. Green trails run along the seashell embedded sand.

The soft malt sand crumbling underneath my feet gets darker as it dares

line, looking in the direction of the hiding couple. Was he here to catch his daughter in a forbidden act?

towards the ocean, whose waves gnaw at the sand, claiming its territory

The revelation leading to panicked heated outbursts of shock and shame

would not find its way back towards inland. The sky is dressed in a light

our daughter associating with that man. What will people say?” Would he

by sinking its weight into the sand, making sure that those little crumbs

under a roof covered with dried, braided coconut leaves. “We can’t have

orange infused gold expanse maneuvering itself between long flags of

drag her away or confront her at home?

pink and purple. The soft white clouds are tinged with a dripping pink

that turns into gray around its full round curves. The setting sun is leaving its legacy in the sky, hiding behind the clouds but letting its light filter


He started working as a teenager, waking at 3.30 a.m. and heading out

through in different shades.

with his father as the birds began chirping in the dark. He had learned

There’s a couple on my right so I push a little more towards the left and

around his fourth finger had been there for 32 years now: he had married

the ways of the sea; the waves, the force, the rush. The thin gold band

risk having a single man standing in the water in my picture.

late. When their husbands returned to shore, Lila and some other women

Two weeks later, I scroll through the pictures on my laptop. I did manage

tangled into a heap and then proceed to tap the fish out of the nets. The

it’s not socially acceptable to be affectionate in public in the more

men to sell the fish. Their daughter, Nandini, would be at school. The

umbrella. But the man on the left was still there in the frame. I zoom in to

her parents,” he gently said, tying a piece of blessed white pirith1 string

would help their husbands unload the long stretch of colored fish nets

to avoid the Umbrella couple on the right. “Umbrella Couple” because

women would wash the fish before proceeding to the market with their

conservative Sri Lanka, leading couples to hide behind an outstretched

monk had named her based on her horoscope. “She will be a light to

find a fisherman; I hadn’t noticed his fishing rod before and the little

around the infant’s right wrist. 1


Threads blessed by Buddhist monks


His mind always traveled to 20 years ago. He left the house in the

morning, and Lila met him at the beach. When they got back home, Nandini wasn’t home yet. She’s probably studying at school, they

agreed. Her breakfast of rice with dhal and coconut sambol had been cleared away. They realized she was gone after they learned that she

never made it to school. They filed a report, put up fliers and notices in

newspapers, waiting for stretches at the Police Office. They went to the temple to pray and even made an offering at a kovila, the Hindu temple

where Lila frantically begged, her palms stuck together in reverence, her

money for whose future? would hang in the empty space as their eyes crossed.

He stared at the grayish blue expanse ahead of him. Where else was he supposed to go? What else did he know how to do? He looked at the

young couple, the air traveling down his lungs filling in deeper, heaving

him down as if a heavy load of fish had been dropped down his air pipe.

Would his daughter ever have the chance to get married? He wondered if that could have ever been her.

eyes struggling to bear the weight of her fright and love, “Please, we will

offer more baskets of fruits even. Whatever the Gods want. Please.” The Kapumahaththaya2 who read her horoscope said that they might never see her again.

Her loss came like a large wave, the current pulling him down by his

ankles, his body collapsing towards the ocean bed, his eyes watching the

gray water sweep above him and the saltiness stinging his eyes and every little wound on his body. She walked to school by herself because her

parents had already left the house. Maybe he should have watched the waves, protected his du3 from the crashing waves. No one would have

noticed if someone crept into their house. She was only a little girl. Eleven years old.

Maybe if he had some other livelihood, he could’ve been the father who would have dropped his daughter to school instead of leaving home

before she had even woken up. So he came to the sea even when he

didn’t have to. With an old fishing rod he barely used. The house had too

much of vacant air in it, and Lila preoccupied herself by taking up sewing. When she earned that extra money from sewing, the unspoken saving 2 3

Hindu priests Daughter



Faces of the Surface Amal Al Shamsi

Birthday balloons with the wrong age, Bubbles saved from stubby fingers, Clouds, the finest voyeurs,

Grocery bags like flags of the modern world, Cribs, hopefully empty before the voyage, Decorated goldfish in their tanks, Shackled buoys on guard, Takeout boxes in the tub,

Hungry dhows with their mouths too full,

Paper plates stained by someone’s last meal,

Disembowelled watermelons who didn’t see it coming, Flowers from the guilty man next door,

Straws in the shared drink gone too fast, Empty chests,

Chunks of rock, once sweltering stars, Gazes unplugged from the mind,

Childhood memories deliberately erased, Hurled words never meant to escape,

Hands when they hesitate and withdraw, Worries when they didn’t matter at all, Voices that call, call, call. All that we can know

On a Ferry Tom Abi Samra

about what’s hiding under this boat is what we can imagine from the things that stay afloat.



Contemplation Alice Huang

I stood in front of the window in the bedroom of someone I had cared for

messy duct tape and confusing layers of printed words, moving with a

dearly in the past. A cheap hotel building blocked a third of the view. It

destination and no privilege to get lost.

The lights on the hotel sign had not worked a single night since I moved

Today, though, I made myself coffee with the moka pot I took with me

palette with various scales of gray. The headlight of an illegally parked car

read Hemingway to the December street, and played a song that sings,

was almost midnight, yet the sky retained a touch of blue, though muddy. in two weeks ago. To the right was a parking lot with cars aligned like a

when I moved away from my apartment in Florence eight months ago. I

blinked violently at a man strolling pass. There were no ant people like

“I’ll be your real tough cookie with the whiskey breath.”

how they enjoy saying when they look outside a window. And the cars on


the road moved only lazily. The night was not dark enough and the streets were not bright enough.

I watched a video on BBC about absurdism. What is life? It says, you

Not every window takes you to the end of the Fifth Avenue like that of the

either move all the green peas from one plate to another, or you jump off

eighth floor of Kimmel on a Thursday night.

the bridge.

I felt like the cheap hotel, the collection of cars shadowed under an

I’d rather perpetually move peas, though oftentimes I sympathize more

eternal staring at the boring traffic.

tend to feel like one pea being moved between plates, and I sit and watch

ordinary night, the violently exposed pedestrian, and a streetlight stuck in

strongly with the peas themselves, not the pea mover. On cloudy days I people come and go and feel like peas for them.

* The view from my window is terribly gray, but I can’t pull myself away

from staring at the Christmas lights on the roof a diagonal block across from me.

Since the first snow three days ago, the city has been quite sticky from the melting and dripping. Usually on these kinds of days, I feel like a

reused Amazon Prime cardboard box, carrying a mismatched piece of plastic that sold itself without feeling a slight sting, covered with



Washington Square Park Thirangie Jayatilake

Last Spring I walked through Washington Square Park and the benches had almost reached full capacity.

I pass by the saxophone player at the base of the statue, pink blossoming around him, intercepted with fresh light green buds,

The guy walking around with a free hugs sign,

The lady with three dogs with their leashes tied to her waist, Innocent bystanders sitting on the inside of the fountain, enjoying the bliss of sunshine and warmth, before the fountain comes back to life,

forcing them out of their seats, the same fountain

that hosted budding skateboarders and footballers just two months ago,

A random stranger walking around holding an Insomnia

Cookies envelope asking “would you like to share A cookie with me?” I wonder why he didn’t try

offering it to a dog, a dog wouldn’t have rejected him.


Untitled Aya Bouhelal



evgenija filova

Yesterday I was scared of taking a tissue out of the tissue box. The tiles

When are you coming back? You left ago. You left your tissues too. I can’t

around me were round. And blue. I felt like shrinking, my buttons rolling

take care of your tissues, come pick them up. Please …

sound of paper sheets that caused this. One, two, three, it will be over

Over there on the left one can see the leaves. Tiny, sharp, glass-edge

soon. J and I had a fight …

leaves, out of the tree. The tree was late though. I tried again.

I like washing my hands. It circles around but it doesn’t come back. We

It is wrapped up it was wrapped up. Here I am gonna go now. I told her

The holes can’t come back. Which is what scares me. J and I had a

me. L too. Today?

Tomorrow we will do it.


I can maybe go now. To try to get there. Arrive. Carrying it, holding it. I

I never liked the patterns on the ground, I just never did. It gushes me.

don’t really know what I am doing.

Awfully, horribly, hot tills.

I really don’t understand what is happening here. The night she told me

Oh, this is so bizarre. I am telling you, I am scared. Only one wave in the

on the floor. I think my left hair curled to the right. It must have been the

are continuously present here. I am attempted of scared fears. And holes. fight again. And coffee I said I only like hot coffee. Tea hurts my nostrils.

look into the night. Onto the night? I see and I can’t see, her loving me. I cried. She didn’t cry, she maybe cried. That cake was good! However. Tomorrow she said it will materialize. Dematerialize? Dissolve, into the liquid. Liquidity never dissolves I said. I am so smart. I know.

I will be home for dinner. I hope she is not still angry at me. T has to call

only one wave. And then she passed. She crossed me. Overwhelmed

On big streets we can walk apparently. Hm. Mhm. I am not sure really. Can we? Walk? What?

I let time slip through my fingers. Again. It shattered and broke. I don’t like

I felt ignored again. I really don’t know how this happened. I tried to

the image of time breaking actually. Shattering is better. Cursing.

corrected she always corrects.

I hear holes. I can hear them. I am serious. They are calling me. Should I

go there, I really did, but the language ceased me, deserted me! she


come back? Go back she said. But I didn’t hear her. I never do.


The feeling of darkness behind a half closed curtain. I always close the doors for that reason. She doesn’t.

It is at the edge of chaos that you need to stand on. At. At the edge of chaos. Can you see it? It is over there, look. The chaos. I found it! Did you poke it? No? It’s all right.

We can try again tomorrow.

To Me

(A ripoff poem of Kenneth Koch’s To You) Sabrina Zhao

You love the kid on the roof

That connects the snow to the wind thanks to the blue sunlight Because I always lay near the walnut tree beside you Thinking of the years of craziness in a bottle Lying on the sea, from Miami to Hartford

Oh goodness! The search of the thousands of thoughts that

Awaken me on the sidewalk leading towards somewhere deep inside My head laid on your shoulders and this pose

Of us at the window always sees itself in harmony

Best at dawn, but unlikely of me and not trustworthy of me For I question the beliefs that you live with and for, as a

Kid questions the green goat that he sees on the fields and oh

I question love as a sheriff questions the murderer at dawn as the

Wind blows his white shirttails in the snow; and so I swim and swim

In the sea that leads me from Hartford back to Miami but no sea; so For years I search as a ship sails from and to Africa, or as a kid Bicycles from Miami to Hartford back and forth My heart so out of place but always receives

Questions when awake or not, and so I love and live And because I love I question, so I live From this unsolved case I live always.




Zoe Patterson


A liminal life

Steeped in spider webs

Absurd sounds and unlikely light

The tendrils tenuous and trembling

Unlikely borne by air but

Every footstep

Hands wrapped by some new city

Swept; snapped

A bird a puff of feather flight

Quiet crescendo

There she is


Walking through cobwebs

You kissed my cheeks so tenderly

When I was drinking you in with wider eyes

Baby spiders squeal

White from the snow-skies I threw hope on

You wrapped my hands in wool

I wished I wished—

Light like eyelashes

But no wishes for those baby spiders squished.

You blew the frost away with breaths

I wished on you

Eyes fixed on faded desert stars and Hazy New York pin pricks.

We slept in a pulsing grid of

Those deep-sea glowing fish and

Waves of whales I wished I wished I walked

I held in sea-salt breaths



In Remembrance

Muhammad Shehryar Hamid Remember the foul cough syrup?

The one mother would force upon you. So instead, you’d run away and hide.

Remember how you’d forget even having a sore throat as a few hours went by?

Remember when for the first time you felt an itch on your back? And how you’d extend your arms, and scream.

But your arms would prove to be too short in length.

Remember how mother would come running and scratch? Remember when you first had the blues. In your chest, you felt a sunken heart.

And the view from your eyes was wet and blurred. Remember how she’d sing you lullabies all night?

Remember when you called her just the other day?

Life at Markazi Tom Abi Samra


And how excited she was to talk to you? How sudden it was, all that happened.

Remember how she said she’d never let you go?


Biting Cold Adele Bea Cipste Ink on paper

Lotus of Gold Asma Balfaqih



Notes from sands of home or buildings, buildings, buildings Neha John

At dusk I see your curves and lines. Light spilling forth from your insides.

The hudhud has come. Or so it seems. The sounds are not real. Pigeons

the struggles walled within. Wood glue, glass and vinyl. Your name, in big,

crown of the hudhud and the pigeons that poop. They can fly, fly away.

Entrails of a broken generation. Tears behind windows. Glass panes mask

on window sills. Green and white they leave their markings. The little

bold letters, is printed on my heart. Etched on my mind. You are as much

And then return. I want to fly. Take this place with me everywhere I go.

Lines and curves that guide and confuse me.

I accept it, I accept it all. The spilling sand, the strange darkness outside

As the sun sets, I look beyond your shoulders. A vastness that I still

of perfume, rustling trees, bird poop on windows, bird poop on cars. I

checkpoints of growth and prosperity. But, the dust is still settling. It

about today, tomorrow, yesterday. I accept our flawed understanding

horizon. Everything has changed. You are not the same either. I know you.

accept that.

gain a relationship of temporality.

I would say you saw my heart. My tears and love at maximum intensity.

Saadiyat is a strange name. “Happiness” Island. I live on happiness

conversations that you know that others don’t. Secrets or special details

contained in happiness. Tears masked by happiness. Fear hidden behind

special. Walls that once confused enlighten me. Draw my understanding

its blue. Big, Blue and Happy.

a cascade of papers and books. Instantly buried. Constantly buried. Still

These streets, these sands, they rise up and chase after me. In my hair,

stories safe. Walls that contain the tipping sand. Walls that must come

a part of me now as I am of you. Patterns in bricks, patterns on trees.

my window, the tears of a friend, my tears in the corridors, the smell

cannot explain lies ahead of me. Again, I see lights. Markers of civilization,

accept that it is all useless. The papers, the hours, the constant thinking

irritates my eyes and the sounds hurt my ears. Slowly I no longer see the

of each other. I always thought I was safe with you. I was wrong, and I

We shared something. We have lost something to each other, in order to

You saw my heart towards you and my heart towards others. There are

island. Happiness Island is home to my happiness and sorrows. Woes

we share. Hidden within your walls and the pages of notebooks. You are

happiness. The color of the water is different here. Nothing compares to

to what is truly significant in life. Guide me to be myself. Drowning under

my pockets, my shoes. They come with me everywhere I go. I cannot get

the smell comforts me. Of pages, and people and place. Walls that keep down.

rid of it. Washing has not helped; leaving does not answer it either. When I tip my shoes over, the sand keeps pouring out. I’m still holding a shoe,

tilted in my hands that has been tipping sand since 1998, and it does not

look like it will end. A perpetual machine powering nothing but memories.




Amna Alharmoodi Drawn curtains look like frames made of light. “You’re too young to

study medicine.” My family members like to impart wisdom where they

have no business to. Remain here, where they can dissect every choice you’ve made. There are books on how to be successful, but there are

none on how to manage a forty-seven-year-old. We wonder how many

stars there are in the sky, but do stars wonder how many humans think

of them? The grass felt hungry, it was recently fed, but desire emanated

from the ground underneath. Can we only please death and accompany

it by departing those we love to face loneliness? The room was too bright for my eyes, I focused on slicing the apple pie for fifteen people I loved. The sky was a lazy blue-gray, indecisive choice for everyone to behold.

The waves pulled at my feet, beckoning me to join a carefree life. Home remedies include adding turmeric to an unsanitized wound, rub it in like

Ragamala Hatim Benhsain Ink on paper

hateful others who rub salt in your wounds; actually adding a little salt

with turmeric might help. She has these eyes that look at you and seem to know everything about you, a smile that further admits the previous fact, and words that your ears have longed for. Pretty pink dresses

with cut-outs to show off just the right amount but save a little bit for

imagination humiliation. Some cells are worth the sacrifice. Things to

look for while walking: cracks, snakes and flying umbrellas; you should

be wary of cracks lest you fall into one, snakes have a certain irresistible

charm, and umbrellas might poke your eyes out. Remnants of loved ones smell, be sure to sanitize or throw them out, don't cling to them at night: tears make the smell even more intense. How should I shower you with

affection: with a light drizzle, or in a similar fashion to Katrina? We forget how the whistle sounds or how the line is drawn.




Leanne Talavera My Aunt is dying, or was dying, but either way she’s not dead

yet. Thankfully, she would grind out, the words scraping past a cigarette. She inhales the nicotine, her lips

sucking furiously like how they used to against a styrofoam rim, newly bought from the Starbucks that just replaced her high school diner. Heels up,

panty out, as the Chanel that sent her into debt rides up a thigh as darkly roasted as her butt isn’t.

What a day, followed by the fall of ashes, I’ve only drank two glasses.

Christ! her exclamation frightens

Johnny Walker, sends two ice cubes into a Big Bang ricochet.

Fizzle, pop. Whistles where she blows. Her smoke covers the

first blue sky since the monsoon.

How funny, I start to see, that people

who are about to die are more willing

Smoke Gábor Csapó

to do things that would make them die faster.




Shamma Al Bastaki I have

metamorphosed into a little less than a cocoon

an unripe mango going greener

hearts are like ants

strong, but easily squashed the salty puddle in my eye is reluctant

my journey is a blizzardful parking lot carless and careless at dusk (threathed through by ashes hour-hither hour yonder

drives through a conscience) concave

flying inward


Dirty Sreerag JR


Plastic Overdose

dangerous gaseous emissions. It was in those days when the plastic

Muhammad Shehryar Hamid

began to accumulate together like magnetic materials do, but unlike

It has almost been a year now. Two hundred and thirty-three days to

it covered most of the roads and desert land. Over the years, it spread

running out of food. I tried leaving yesterday, but it was pitch black. Even

of heavy machinery to force it to sink, but was able to succeed only to an

The concentration of volatile organic chemicals and dioxins has been

of marine species and seabirds. David predicts that only a handful of land

the abnormal gaseous presence, but night-vision devices could not

regions. I haven’t encountered any land animal in over a year. The last one

magnetic materials, it also began to spread and extend flat. Soon enough

be exact. I have not left the hiding place for seven days, and we are

over the ocean, and it wouldn’t sink. The world government tried the use

worse, the view through the night vision goggles is fading day by day.

extent. Doing this, however, led to the death and extinction of thousands

increasing rapidly. The naked eye has adapted to partially see through

species must be existing today, mostly those inhabiting mountainous

biologically evolve.

I came across was a dying monkey, with bits of chewed plastic container

We have been staying at the hiding place for seventy-eight days now.

in its mouth.

Seventy-one of these days have been completely pitch black. David

The world had become a strange place. The sole intent of the last space

awake at night. Of course, there is no way of knowing for sure. There

of outer space. The best astronauts were sent on this mission, and the

PM. Setting the time using instinct on the days when there was little

globe from any angle was blue. Shades of gray and black were most

is only confusion when I think of time. Who would have thought that

dense tree plantations were not affected by the accumulation of plastic,

unaware than ever?

most of the humans, including us, have emigrated to. We used rocks,

I can sometimes see sparks when I frantically rub stones together.

shelter. It has barely sufficient space to accommodate the four of us, but

or even start a fire. “There is barely enough oxygen for us to properly

I are responsible for gathering food, whereas Susan and David spend

had been conducting scientific research specifically on the disposal

concentration to at least our hiding place.

plastic malfunction. His wife, Susan, often reminds us how close David

I wonder why I call the shelter “hiding place.” It is not hidden, and we are

has judged from our sleeping patterns that we sleep in the day and stay

mission held was to capture photographs of Earth from the perspective

is no way to tell whether the time on our watches is actually in AM or

pictures that they brought back were horrifying. Not even a tenth of the

light coming through has devoid us of any real knowledge of time. There

common, with some hints of green. The forests. Surprisingly, areas with

the future would eventually lead us into a history where man was more

although residues of plastic can be found there too. The forests are where broad leaves, dry grass, available dead pine and clothes to build our

David, however, has ruled out any possibility of being able to sustain

we manage. There isn’t much work to do, but my girlfriend, June, and

breathe,” he claims, as he sees me clashing stones like a madman. David

their time researching mechanisms that can restore the adequate oxygen

of non-biodegradable plastic for ten years, up until the onset of the

was to finding a solution to chemically disposing of plastic without any


not hiding. Perhaps it is because of the news agencies back when the


electricity was still in supply. The news would constantly report how some

and eventually combined with the ozone layer to form a dark endless

course, back then it sounded odd, but within months it became the norm.

then. Perhaps the only good thing about the sheet was that it ended the

scientists and other people are entirely relocating to the forest lands. Of

It is no doubt now that most of the living population resides in the forests. The gaseous toxicity has killed every person who chose to stay in the

ignorant bliss of their houses. Many colonies have formed in the forests where the shelters are made closer together to reflect a societal way of living in the community. Our shelter, however, is situated far from any colony.

sheet in the sky. It has been two hundred and thirty-three days since

suffering caused by the heat. Electricity had shut down by then, and all offices, industries, and organizations, including healthcare, had closed. That time saw the rise of many people leaving their houses with no

belongings, hopelessly trying to find the land where the scientists had left

for earlier. They were hopeless because of the darkness, which took away their senses of direction and instilled in them a fear of the unknown.

It was about two years after the onset of the plastic malfunction that

My father was the last living member of my family, and he lived together

heat became unbearable. Scientists claimed that the Earth was moving

sick due to the inhalation of toxic fumes. It had been four months since

the global temperatures began to increase. Over a few months, the

closer to the Sun, and that there was an imbalance in gravitational and interplanetary attraction. Their claim was soon regarded as fact when

it became noticeable that the Sun was too low in the sky, and news of

consistent floods near the regions of the North and South poles became mainstream. That was when the world shook into chaos, and a world

government was created as a desperate measure to take a united stand against the possibility of mass extinction.

It wasn’t the world government, though, that saved us from mass extinction. It was plastic itself, granting us our lives to spend in a

nightmare of night. With the sun so low, some of the plastic began to

decompose. This process used oxygen in the air over the months, and released many gases, volatile organic chemicals, and dioxins. These

continuous decomposition reactions took place all over the world, and the air was full of a toxic smoke-like gaseous substance. Millions of infants and children died. The lives of many adults and older human beings

were taken as well, and some were rendered extremely sick, including my father. The darkly colored gas rose as it was constantly produced,


with me and June. After the mass decomposition began, he was taken the darkness had spread, and it was already difficult to distinguish day from night. The three of us had locked ourselves in a room with no

windows, to ensure that the air was as clean as it could be. I found an oxygen tank at a nearby deserted clinic and used it to provide a clean

supply of oxygen to my father for a few days. When it ran out, June and

I urged him to leave with us to the colonies, but he wouldn’t agree. A few days later, his condition had worsened. Both June and I tended to him

regularly, until he passed away a week later. That was eighty days ago,

exactly when we left for the colonies. The sky was pitch black then, and there were no streetlights. I couldn’t spot even one star, even if I tried because the sheet was the thickest it has ever been. June and I were lucky to have been found by David and Susan when we set out with

just a flashlight. I was flashing it as an emergency sign, and David saw it. The four of us were probably the last ones to have left the city. We

searched for any of the colonies for two days once we reached the forest, but in vain, and so we decided to make our own shelter in the middle of nowhere and have been here ever since.


I often recall the final days of my father. Once I was talking to June

about how ironically surprising the occurrence of the plastic malfunction was, given how the laws had ordained for years that no new plastic

be produced and that it was the duty of every citizen to take all plastic objects to recycling plants every week. My father overheard the

conversation and interrupted: “Back in my days, plastic was ordinary and everywhere, and not in the chaotic style that it is now. This

plastic accumulation is a hoax by the government. Plastic used to be everywhere, and it made life easy. Oh, this reminds me, back when

life was convenient, water used to be available in the market in plastic bottles. Thousands of plastic bottles in every market. I haven’t seen

one in a long time. You could carry water anywhere, and you could buy water anywhere. No fake electronic hydration system. It’s just that the

environmentalists have finally won, but wrongfully so. I still remember how they would start riots, especially in universities. They would create web

pages, twitter accounts, and whatnot to support their campaigns, but to

what extent? What did it achieve them? How could they foolishly believe that plastic has any connection to the environment? Or that recycling all the plastic in the world would actually achieve anything. Tell you what, they would put plastic recycling bins everywhere, but ask me if I ever

threw anything plastic into one of those. My friends were the same. Did

anything crazy happen? Never. This plastic disaster outside is just a hoax.

Muhammad Yasin The Kaleidoscopic Campus!

They’re brainwashing you.”

In his last days, my dying father recalled some horrific and unimaginable

details. Something crazy did happen. He lost his life, inhaling the ordinary. But as I’m alive, thinking of the historic abuse of plastic sends chills down my spine.



to the place that did not keep me Archita Arun

dress modestly when visiting a public place such as malls,

The Corniche as a place of meditation Even though I remained

a foreigner//alien//outsider//guest//resident//expat//human

beaches etc.,

Oh, just be humane to me!

the grocery stores always have at least one Malayali vendor, the Applebee’s in Villagio had some of the best vegetarian food in the city,

There still remains one sea to cross

our white Toyota Corolla that accumulated a little more dust each day,

the Lebanese/Palestinian family who lived across the street

We continued to live magnificently temporarily permanently frugally

other had peculiar brown curls,

generously respectfully reasonably comfortably equally privately

the Chili’s that was a 15-minute drive from home served the

majestically materially consequently guiltily heavily frequently melancholy

from us have two daughters: one had blonde hair and the

happily satisfactorily normally humbly abnormally thankfully liberally

living in Doha >>> living in Al Wakhra,

considerately financially amiably communally inwardly furtively outwardly

best appetizers ever. West Bay

deservedly queasily erroneously crucially distinctly ferociously eventually


Novo Cinema

Remember the ice bucket challenge performed in our backyard bare like

ownership by foreign nationals.

place I was forced to call ‘home.’


What can I do?

Pearl Qatar: the first land in the nation to be available for freehold Yet exclusive to Qataris. Indians can go, but they will always be the Driving around these areas late into the night Can I ever live in Pearl Qatar?

Buy a house? Own a piece of land?

a mother’s womb that has just given birth? In the desolate, abandoned

I fled from one permanent residence to another looking for the humane and came so far far far for you only to be deported.

Look, have I done enough to look like them? Have I hidden my origins well enough?



I now see that no matter how many times I rode that dusty schoolbus or

walked around our housing compound or cried myself to sleep each night in a room too big for a 15-year old or visited my friends’ smaller houses

with smaller rooms in the actual city of Doha or went to the many malls in this damned country or even pretended I wasn’t completely “Indian,” I never belonged there. I never did. Sometimes some of our summer nights return to haunt me when I am

wide awake, the barbecue night for instance, remember how the seven

of us were happy and content with our barbecued mushrooms and bell peppers and paneer, but I am forgetting now my memory betrays me a little more each day


Alice Huang I have a habit of rereading letters. 1

Location: At the door outside a house I was trying to steal some light from. Time: 19th birthday. Footsteps vanished in the night.

Slightly tilted head and nervous shoulders. Shy, skinny handwriting.

Inconvenient time, second-to-last goodbye, shattered faces. It felt as if

there was an obligation to shed tears, but my lacrimal glands were too cold. 2

And I say I want to return, but do I really know what I would be returning to?

Location: Bed.

Time: Before going to bed, reading it for what I thought was the last time before burying it under my old shoe box.

Passport: returned

Residence permit: cancelled Status: DEPORTED

The overwhelming affection was like: gum stuck under my new boots,

empty plastic bottles in my already small backpack (no trash bin), mom’s nag before a class of teenagers. Delete alert yes no. I was drowning in someone else’s desperation. 3

I pine for this place that I grudgingly called home for a little less than eight months.

It is the shame of being “thrown out” and discarded that continues to hurt me deep down. It is the shame. I wish I had departed the way I had arrived. I wish I had never arrived.


Location: Bed, window side.

Time: Now. After a long time.

Ruins of time in the eyes, right palm on left cheek. The earth is round

so we would never fall apart. Waves of delayed affection kicking in, delayed like tequila as opposed to marijuana. Tenderness like men’s tongues

against the nipples. Unresolved feelings like tangling fiber of raw celery in the mouth. Side-effects of growing up like a mathematical proof without

properly introduced notations. Sticky texture of the past like skin-tight jeans on a hot summer day.



Tan Tzy Jiun You are nothing but a potted cactus

Placed on the windowsill for an occasional glance or Whimsical pity.

You are everything like a ladybug On a yellow petal sunbathing, Subjected to no one’s eyes.

Squeak Hatim Benhsain Ink on paper



Unoiled Lungs

Shamma Al Bastaki

we were just idiots

as we screamed and laughed

early 60’s, flicking sand off our lashes

and belched out our flimsy, flowery frustrations

at a neighbor’s well

the dead dinosaurs moving our machine

cameras from Tokyo

competing with our ragged


and gurgled and shrieked

gargling brackish water

roaring louder than

possessed by our possessions

the pterodactyl screech of engine

and other metal instruments

unoiled lungs

big metal instruments

big mobile instruments

steel instruments we sometimes said we wished we stole secretly glad we didn’t

because then we wouldn’t see our sweat in the droplets

of humidity that fogged up the windows as we bashed the dunes waving at camel men

in our naked-bellied tomb bats with wheels steel handles that stung our palms clay red

like jellyfish after a long fishing trip leather seats bathed in sun biting our bare backs



Green, Green, and Gone Arthur De Oliveira

my heart is like grass

it gets cut when grown wild

and all that is left is the smell of help

and then thicker blades and then greener leaves.

Between, a Haiku Rosy Tahan

It’s not Pollock’s fault

paint stains everything except the air it drips through

Persian Shield Nada Almosa




Leanne Talavera Oftentimes, she had a vision:

The days bled into months, and sunlight, into clouds.

beyond the horizon of a sunless, crystalline

her chest seemed to palpitate with the need to just

a single tree towered like a monolith, and

into that need, the more she saw of her beloved

that shouldered an abundance of vibrant,

welcoming her home. And

a field of wheat that stretched out

The more mornings she seemed to wake up to, the more

sky. Somewhere in the distance

disappear. But oddly enough, the more she fell

its branches were serpentine arms

indigo sky, its endless expanse like outstretched arms,

evergreen leaves.

her visions stayed where they were, and

In those visions, she chased that tree, sprinting

things seemed bright enough to shoo them away,

the flesh beneath it. Then, after a few flitting moments,

as she sprinted along its soil, her heartbeat

umbrellaed by a shade that sang to her

into the shadows of its only tree. Soon,

never left. Even when

through the sea of wheat that tickled her skin, and

her field continued to suffocate under her feet

she would be there,

a series of wingbeats the minute she stepped

in hushed whistles.

above her field, only ever hung indigo skies.

That was what she envisioned, whenever she thought about killing herself—

an imaginary life beyond the living.

Sometimes on that tree, she would find a tire swing, Swaying in the zephyrs. Sometimes,

a rocking chair, scratching against buried pebbles. But what she liked best was the some times that the sky would dip into an

enchanting indigo, a moonless night that only then made her call that field Heaven. It was those times

that made her contemplations of death more tangible.



in a sentimental mood Vamika Sinha

My high school history teacher, Mr Hoosain, would sometimes put on

old Beatles records or Gil Scott Heron and deviate from the syllabus to talk about The Great Gatsby or his life during the apartheid regime in

South Africa. As a young brown Muslim man forced to live and travel only within “colored” zones, he joined local resistance movements

against segregation. One day, he heard that one of his colored friends,

a resistance fighter, had tragically died from a car bomb planted by the authorities. I looked around then, at my “international,” “integrated”

classroom, and felt something cold like an ice block inside my chest. Nobody spoke for a while after that.

One day, I told Mr Hoosain I was thinking about studying literature and he did this thing when he got excited, where his eyes bulged and he started bouncing on his toes. He started to lend me a lot of books after that, his Saturday-morning-in-bed favorites, as he called them. “You’ll like this,” he’d say, handing me a red paperback. “It has a lot of music running

14th St Sabrina Zhao

through it, especially jazz and sixties tracks.” I started making playlists out of the novels, combing through YouTube on school nights. In one book, the music of John Coltrane was described so affectionately, with such

intrigue and wonder, that I looked up the song “In a Sentimental Mood,”

and it sounded like the taste of a sweet cherry. With that, I began tottering on this often bizarre, meandering path of jazz.

In Mr Hoosain’s class, we would spend a lot of time straying into the worlds of music and literature—jazz, rap, paperbacks—and having

spontaneous, passionate discussions that transcended the cliquey

boundaries of high school interaction. “Don’t you see? The Great Gatsby

is not about an ill-fated lover. It’s about the Jazz Age, the swing of a giddy



generation, the money and optimism and the loss of it. It’s about hope— and the American dream. This dream is false, Fitzgerald is trying to say. It’s an alloyed dream, the furthest from gold you can get,” Mr Hoosain

would say, his eyes shining, our eyes shining, all of us replete with new

ideas. I would picture a younger version of him, learning the news of the

car bomb, his friend, and think of how every people and every nation has a dream, each one equally blue and alloyed.

Last year, Mr Hoosain died from a heart attack. I realized the person who

taught me how to unfold the past would now always belong to the past— and remain there for the immeasurable amount of time that is forever.

When I first heard about his death, my initial thought was that I can never go back. I can never go back and talk to him, never thank him for all that he did for me, for all of us, and the words and music he offered me to fill in the coloring lines of my existence. In my mind, a quote from Gatsby

resurfaced: “You can’t repeat the past. You can’t repeat the past.” Now

it’s 1 a.m. in a New York diner, and I suddenly think of Mr Hoosain again. I tell my friend sitting across from me that I had never really cried for

anyone’s death before that. In my head, I remember how every time John Coltrane or Charlie Parker improvised a ripe, delicious solo, it was never played the same again. But generations of students continue to unfold,

Opening Hours

Valeriya Golovina

inscribing these solos to their memories, hoping to glean some of that same magic themselves.




Tan Tzy Jiun Old Cantonese man with a wrinkly face smiles

As young Malaysian Chinese girl shyly points to the poulet au champignon noir

A reduction of a historical dish to infantile terms in a Colonizer’s language

He fills her takeaway box to the rim and she knows This gesture of nourishment

It reminds her of her late grandmother who would chide her for eating too little

And as he turns to slide the box into the microwave

A stick of bread, to describe the ancient philosophies behind our food and the way we eat them?

A stick of bread, to describe the alienation of 50 million Chinese migrants when their accents are poked fun at, their customs shamed, their beautiful eyes mocked? Vous parlez français?

Je suis… en train de… l’apprendre. He nods

He understood and for the first time since she arrived she felt

She briefly caught a glimpse of Po Po’s silhouette heating up leftovers on


Cutlery or chopsticks?

So of course

the sticky ancestral stove

About not mastering the language just yet

He inquired in Cantonese, holding up a packet of plastic spoon and fork

In an act of solidarity to the smiling old Cantonese man with wrinkly face

European or Asian?

Young Malaysian Chinese girl chooses

on one hand and bamboo chopsticks on the other

Colonized or resisting colonization?

And millions who came before her Les baguettes

Comment on-dit “chopsticks”? “Les baguettes!”

They both laugh because once again the colonizer’s tongue fails to encapsulate their epistemology

A stick of bread, to describe the warmth of laughter-filled reunion dinners where three generations gather on round tables?



Lady Rocket in Israel Sabrina Zhao

The wilderness the vastness the yellowness the greenness

The bigger the better the higher the merrier the slower the grandeur

To the views that I blink at but never know when or how

More trees here and also much milder here than the steep rock mountains

This is no Paris Texas for me

Away from the downstairs of my bedroom where I was told by a friend

Only a tint of red that my sunglasses hold tightly

The vast-land and the vast-sea so gentle and caring but so unreal

I see many landscapes but seeming different from home 455 kilometers

No Ry Cooder on headset, but an unknown mezzo-soprano voice

Whose high school girlfriend fell in love with an Israeli boy three months

Unclear and slow is this melody and so Chloe mistakes as French

And will move to Tel Aviv this summer

Toi et moi

The window, my sunglasses and that transparent cornea, unconscious of

Bronze Venus born in St. Louis with deux amours

My headset running out of the battery now, but I let it go anyway

Sleepy lazy tunes awake me that I finally forgo blinking I retap the phone screen and the title shows: She made a solid guess but not a right one


I look at the unchanging greenness and blueness through blinking

Or the Americana Tejano guitarist would make more sense but

I never met that girl, that friend of my friend, that faceless figure who

Of a girl sitting in a coffee house whose profile face I had a glimpse of

To close my eyes, and listen, that voice I listen to, quietly

Neither occupies me at the moment other than that young Korean voice On a paper cover as I pass by the record section in a bookstore

persuades me

Is that you, Lady Rocket?

In Seoul

The second time I traveled there and I bought some leather passport cases

For family and for friends who assume no more than kimchi and barbecue Only she hears my silent voices as I hear hers, along those rides Her name is Lady Rocket

City bus, subway, railway, train, intercity bus, taxi, bicycle

Incheon, Gapyeoung, to Namchuncheon and then Hongcheon, Yangyang to Gangneung

There was a lot of sitting, but I imagine elsewhere like I wish

I were in a big van, a giant truck, or an old-fashioned triple-story tour bus



Dear Korea Lauren You Hi Korea. How do you feel about being divided into two?

How should I feel about having to explain that I’m from the southern part of you?

That I probably will not ever get to see you from the other side? There are divisions within you. Gender stereotypes. Girls with pink

cheeks, short skirts, red lips, puffy bangs. I see them everywhere.

It’s a lot of hustling. Fitting in, finding a clique. At dawn I see silhouettes of little kids studying. Their shoulders hunched, their hands moving. Their heads are down but the day’s just begun.

At dusk I see still bodies crammed together inside trains. They’re

unmoving but buzzing silently with joy to be on their way home.

Remember those days when I would sneak into one of the small

convenient stores by the streets and buy those pink junk foods my

mother never approved of? Those were good days. There wasn’t a lot of hustling. Or less, at least.

New Year’s is quite a time to be with you. Fireworks, hot meals, and family reunions. Dishes rich in color and nutrients, neatly lined up in rows.

High spirits all around. There’s a lot of hustling but it’s a good kind of hustling.

It’s a lot of hustling, but I accept that’s what makes you you.

It’s a lot of hustling, but I accept that’s what makes you true.

I accept it all; I accept you in all that you are, in all that you do. Do you?

As the sun sets I see windows light up one by one. Families unite and their metal spoons and chopsticks meet in a delightful tinkling.

Your buildings are undecorated, mundane, and unoriginal. But their surfaces are covered with posts, images, signs, and texts.

It’s a lot of hustling. Can you even breathe through all that?



Girl Surprises All, Saves the World Smrithi Nair

It’s such a shame that no one will get to meet the person who appears in my mirror when the room is empty. She is hilarious, and charming,

and graceful, and confident, and tall. So tall. She’s saved humanity more times than can be kept track of. 3201 times, to be exact. But, of course, who’s keeping count? Besides, she doesn’t do it for fame or anything.

She doesn’t do it because people will be impressed, and then they’ll feel guilty about having the wrong impression of her. They’ll understand that

she pretends to be one of the bad guys to divert suspicion until the very last moment when she reveals her true nature and chooses to sacrifice

herself to save the others. She pushes everyone out of the chamber, out

of harm’s way, locking herself in with the toxic gas in a room whose doors

can only be opened from the inside. But she makes it back alive, because she’s supremely skilled. Only after some serious struggle, of course. A

gunshot wound. In the stomach. But, of course, she wants no credits, no songs composed for her, no letters thanking her, no newspaper article

in awe of her. Girl surprises all, saves the world. None of that. She does

what she does out of the kindness in her heart, and her love for people. Of course.

The best version of myself is not being myself. Which I am completely okay with because being myself is staring at my ringing phone, and

choosing to pretend to be dead instead of answering it. Being shy and introverted, you’d think I’d prefer shorter conversations, but, in my

opinion, they are the worst ones. Especially introductions, oh how I dread introductions. I rehearse saying “Hello, I’m Smrithi” a million times in my head and still get part of it wrong. My name. I can’t even remember the

United Hatim Benhsain

amount of times I have slipped up on my own name. And that’s the thing about names, once you’ve uttered the wrong pronunciation, you can’t

Ink on paper 98


just correct it. If you do, then you’re the mumbling idiot who doesn’t know

an unjustified sense of confidence and self-assurance, and no logic. In

exactly that mumbling idiot who doesn’t know her own name, but hey,

lower. For you see, in bargaining there’s no room for frivolous things

how to say her own name properly. Now, I am highly aware that I am

other people don’t have to know that. In my defense, I don’t say my own name very often. Who does? Therefore, mistakes are bound to happen. You may keep your judgment to yourself.

Talking is hard when you’re me. I fail to understand people who can just

response to whatever price is offered to you, however reasonable, go

like reason and kindness. Leave them at home. The outside world is a battleground, and you must be armed with obstinacy. So be warned:

bargaining is not something for the weak. I have seen grown adults break down and cry like babies in the aftermath of their bargaining episodes.

talk to anyone, at any place without once looking down at their feet.

You can imagine, bargaining is not something I am particularly good at.

rehearsing the entire speech. And they do this while being articulate and

possibility of human interaction. I would probably end up paying more

They just sit there and talk about stuff without first writing it down and

charming and beautiful all at the same time. These people are downright annoying. And quite honestly, rude. Because I feel there’s a secret that they’re not sharing with those of us who trip on flat ground. There they

Shopkeepers can smell fear, and I reek of it anytime there’s the remote

than what was asked for, and then walk home by myself just to avoid a confrontation with a rickshaw driver.

are, being functional human beings, and here I am, treating myself to a

It is tough. But I am currently working on my people-skills, working

face. And seeing how rarely I eat chocolates, you can tell twenty minutes

transforming into the confident, graceful woman I know I can become

chocolate every time I manage to go twenty minutes without falling on my is a long stretch for me. It’s mostly okay: I don’t like chocolates anyway.

If talking is hard for me, being Indian in India is a whole another story. You would think that I would have figured out how to navigate the country which has been the only home I’ve ever known. But, I don’t know if

you’ve noticed, I am slightly more awkward than the average person.

Just slightly. Back home, there’s a genetic trait that is passed down from

to overcome my fears. It’s been a day and I can already feel myself

—the woman who swears more and apologizes less. Who goes into the world with self-assurance and poise, and isn’t afraid to put herself and her work out there. The woman in the mirror.

On the other hand, living in a cave with three cats and writing anonymous fiction pieces doesn’t sound too shabby.

generation to generation, an ability that great grandmothers and fathers, and their children alike pride themselves on, called bargaining. I am

the exceptional case from whose DNA this trait, along with many other

things, got edited out. So, traveling and shopping are real problems for me. Because you see, traveling by the meter is for the amateurs of the road, the real Indian passenger goes by the much more reliable, and

scientifically accurate, method of being an asshole. The trick is to have

100 100


A Thread of Hope Asma Balfaqih


‫ذات العيون الكحيلة‬-‫افنان‬ Asma Balfaqih


Oh, Look! A Street Fair! How Nice! Arthur De Oliveira

Bootleg sources of imagery burned into fear—are under the shade. People giving and receiving alms with a soul of charity. A cracked piece of concrete1 floor evokes

All the spirits of a Sunday morning–post praising God. Local-rivers-not-in-town drag sweet water fish

On an ice pool, and a cheese specimen is exchanged for commodity is, Watched by the cracked skin of a man, and his friend time.

Open a pair of parenthesis and don’t forget about the economic crisis2 The watercolor skin that is moving people

Pressed between-and-against the tight stripes of plastic stands

Supported through rusted iron rods corroded with callused hands

The beauty of observation when one sits on a plastic chair and listens 1

Why doesn’t the local government fix the damn road? I swear to God–driving through this

The boiling sounds of a silver plated (then painted) stove

Powered by an introverted fire of warmth, joy, and quietness

Give life to the bubbles that pluft and ploft into a skin of crispy hard liquor, flour, water, salt and finally all baptized in oil.

On a screeching reflection of light from the tired silver stands The morning dew sleeps tightly—then woken by clumps of

Hunched tomatoes married to thoughtless onions and some juice

That is thrown into the depths of the cheese cave that is an open pastel He was COMICAL AND UGLY3 COMICAL AND UGLY for sure

An air of judgment covered the food stand

Reinforcing the state of confusion and fear. 3

I came here to take a break from uni only to find out the disgusting thing I know everyone on

damn street every day and praying to God my tire doesn’t pop has become a ritual in my life,

campus is trying to avoid. You hear a little bit here—you hear a little bit there–and you are never

but a joke at the local government. I am in a damn car filled with fifteen rabbits. Have you ever

really sure what is true and what is not, but you know something is happening, and its d–i–s–g–

been around rabbits? The frequency in which they defecate and urinate is remarkable, and

u–s–t–i–n–g. Pst … look over there you see—. I don’t know what he does, as usual, but I have

what is even worse–the rabbit stank I have to endure while driving around the city. If my car

heard stories of—and—. You know. No one knows what to do. But our stomachs turn whenever

breaks down, I am going to have to spend another three hours just cleaning the car–after I

we see that. Nobody knows what’s happening, but everybody knows what’s happening.

deliver all these fucking rabbits. Apparently, someone at the government thinks it’s funny. Look Roberval’s tire popped. How is that funny? I don’t understand, I simply don’t understand. 2

Economic crisis? Look around, this place is packed. Every time I come here, I am constantly

reminded that I am the only one in the city buying a single banana. I go to a stand. I am choosing the best banana when some lady shows up, and starts picking all the damn fruit. Who the hell is she feeding? No one likes eating all that fruit, it may be a posh taste. When I bring my kid, all he wants is some fucking biscuit. Then I have to buy it, because the kid won’t shut up. But it is not that bad, I only buy him one. But this leads me into my second point, who is she feeding all that food to? Does she have a fucking hippopotamus in her back yard? I wouldn’t be surprised. Rich people love exotic animals. While they deal with some other continent animal I have to deal with a damn flea infested dog in front of my house. My kid loves the dog, so now I have to split my income with something I don’t even own.



Heroism, what a farce!

Where the water goes and ends up giving fruit

Followed by the judgment of the teeth

Spiked crowns, thick headed seed protectors,

In the paradoxical impulses of the mind Lips and the eventual hammer of pain lost in the head.

Clusters of cages which contain circular juices Pulps of dreams5 plucked from vines

Our multicolor purities—nom—on the munches of street food

Into what purse? What plastic—Do they go?

Devour the wind of silence until the thirst of a

Cracked feet, tired feet, or simply one

Pure plastic places of rest and the road side of dust

Squawking child emerges and begs for more and more

Flip-flop, shoes or skin clustered to the ground. Coming from a bicycle, walking, or simply a car.

The right season brings the right chunk of nature’s gifts4

—me on a road, a child, chewing sugar cane root

That erupts and shakes compactly in one’s mouth until

—me on a road, a child, chewing sugar cane root

A round eyed pure black pupiled iris from a tree

Ploft—Ploft, a sea of pure ecstasy from the clam fruit erupts

From staring too long at trees I have become a tree From staring too long at trees I have become a tree

Woven fabric from overseas compose the thick forest Of linen, jeans, and other bugigangas become lost Alone and midway upon the journey of life

The straightforward pathway had been lost


Look rotten fruit, everywhere. You see this caju? See it? Look here, I am going to open it.


My nutritionist told me to buy all these things. It apparently will help me lose weight. Fresh

Rotten from inside, rotten from outside. Only in this country! Do people sell other people rotten

made Kale juice with lemon, and some other thing I don’t like the taste of. It’s a sacrifice worth

fruit? That’s why this country isn’t going anywhere. ROTTEN FRUIT. We don’t even grow cajus

taking. I haven’t looked that good since I was five. I turn on the television and see all these

here. This is the God damn southeast. The weather isn’t humid at all, it’s also winter. You want

beautiful women. Their slim and athletic physique, I admire it all while I sit back slouched over

caju? Wait three months, take a bus or an airplane and move northeast. Go there. If you want

my couch with a homemade corn flavored ice cream in hand. I bought the ice cream over

to stay here, try out corn. The corn is beautiful. Look you can make Curau, Canjica, Pamonha

there, it’s really good, some man named Arnaldo makes it. Either way, I go back to my salon

Assada, Cuscuz Paulista. You smiled when I said that? I saw it. Look, look, if you don’t want to

and guess what people talk about. The actresses on television and the extreme diet these

make all this stuff but you want all this stuff. It’s simple. We have it here. Look, look …

people are on. Both men and women talk about it. I am telling you I am going to be the next top actress in the country. I got a whole plan right here in my head.



#jesuis Hatim Benhsain American Sreerag JR


Ink on paper


Self-Diagnosing Missingness in the Body Arthur de Oliveira

A round, fat, opaque dot found itself existing within my bloodstream …

Symptoms persist and the tectonic plates of the soul move.

Bacterial font size it cannot exist, but it chooses to do so.

Dr. A round, fat, opaque dot diagnoses a dream of heartaches.

Swarming in the bee hive of my body it turns blood into bitter honey.

Lava filled gazes emerge from the cracks of the eye’s iris.

It leaves puff clouds which flood a flow of blood. It has found a new home

Missingness hits hard from nostalgic dreams.

and it won’t leave.

Symptoms persist and the tectonic plates of the soul move.

Swarming in the bee hive of my body it makes bitter honey.

A repetition of sorrows brings life somewhere and somehow.

It leaves puff clouds which flood a flow of blood. It has found a new home

But the weight of prescriptions wears off and then a wish for no more.

It locks my chest and swallows the key. Goodbye says its hand while it

A repetition of sorrows brings life somewhere and somehow.

It buys real estate within my body and grows all scars once healed. and it won’t leave. swings.

Dr. A round, fat, opaque dot diagnoses a dream of heartaches.

It forgets to pay the rent. With my nails I dig a ditch deep within my chest. But the weight of prescriptions wears off and then a wish for no more.

It buys real estate within my body and grows all scars once healed

I stick my hand. My head. My other arm and now I am stuck.

It locks my chest and swallows the key. Goodbye says its hand while it

It forgets to pay the rent. With my nails I dig a ditch deep within my chest.

A veiled cloud of smoke erupts within my heart and glues to my skin. swings.

Pollen swarmed across the body, it flowers into two than three than four. Symptoms persist and the tectonic plates of the soul move.

Face to face. the dot engulfs my pupils. opaque, now I am out. Everythingness, hello.

I stick my hand. My head. My other arm and now I am stuck.

A round, fat, black dot found itself existing within my bloodstream …

Bioearthquakes then crumble the psychology of the mind.

Dr. A round, fat, opaque dot diagnoses a dream of heartaches.

The prescribed moss coat of horrors takes me on a wild thought trip. Symptoms persist and the tectonic plates of the soul move. Floods of memories drown the fresh air of longing.

Dr. A round, fat, opaque dot diagnoses a dream of heartaches.

A heart ballroom of waltzing longings slow down and disappear.



Serendi Pity Amal Al Shamsi How am I me and you ... How am I here and you, too. The little hand chases its own tail, trapped in a circular cage. I’ll never know you, or you me. Yet all it takes is that second second. Need and Abundance must have thought nothing of their meeting then hatched Greed. What is control when even chance encounters create ripples. Human Luis Carlos Soto

A fool for happenstance, So that no action will go unnoticed, life must not be a riot of absolute free will. Am I no more than a wave relying on the stalking moon? Perhaps, falling into a pit is less painful when you have been pushed. Drown in illusions: the world would not be as it is had we not been here.



On My Spine, A Manual Amal Al Shamsi Don’t hold her,

It’ll soften the lump in her throat. Lay her out like concrete, Wait for her to grow stiff. The lump in her throat,

A guard against foolish words. Wait for it to grow stiff,

Lest embarrassments slip out like silk. Guard against foolishness,

Fear the unleashed tongue.

Recall how embarrassments slip; How blots of th-ink-ing stain silk. Fear not the unleashed tongue, But the growing barbs.

Blots of th-ink-ing stain silk. Will it ever be the same? The growing barbs,

Nourished by the absence of comfort. Will it ever be the same? If you don’t hold her.

Monito Luis Carlos Soto



To be read aloud Tan Tzy Jiun

I feel too much Like a high voltage hairdryer blowing out of control trying to carry out a simple task

I spin trying to do this and that and this and that and here and there and here and there

Like a sugar rush after a bag of gummy bears a jar of Nutella a basket of marshmallows

I do what I should not be doing chasing after a high I know I will regret Like a poacher poaching a precious animal little known to world to extinction

I prey on my sensitivity my willingness to trust my innocence my desire to connect with someone


Like fireworks that do not seem to end one hour two hours three hours bang bang bang

I blind myself and burn and rocket through envious stars stealing the moonlight


Once During Meditation Sherry Yongyi Wu Pen and ink on paper

Like a cut wrist blood spurts everywhere staining everything white

screaming the kill before slumping down in complete weakness

I go for too much try to feel pleasure and pain too hard make accidents I

have to remember for life slip facedown on my own mistakes get an irreversible concussion they call it brain damage



I call it an adventure Like the cockroaches who survived the nuclear missiles when everyone has died or disappeared or irreversibly upside down whole bodies tumored buildings rendered to complete dust

I stay and stay and stay and give more give more give more give more

trust trust trust trust GRIT my teeth and hold on believe in his best believe in us believe in love

Love love love in my genetic makeup (I cannot deny my vulnerability)

I feel too much and maybe tend to think too little but look into yourself and ask if you feel as exhilarated as I do even on my calmer days

I bet you don’t.


Amal Al Shamsi Footsteps the pace of good honey,

Knees padded with lilies softens the blow,

Legs sealed with magnets repel other attractions, Spine filled with lead to be always malleable, Waist held in place by that foreign touch, Stomach never full until it is filled,

Shoulders wear shields of silk against the world’s burdens, Neck weighed down by treasures for demurity, Ears are intricate seashells, ornate but hollow, Eyes replaced with pearls accept all things,

Mind stuffed with cotton absorbs the leaks,

Heart pliant like baked clay makes for easy sharing, Words as transparent as her mirrors though not as many, Breath quiet to not disturb the balance of the universe,

If only her resolve could stay as stubborn as a sandcastle by the sea.



My Pillow Book Aiman Khurram

Fog: Morning fog in Abu Dhabi is a strange phenomenon. A phenomenon more common now in my senior year than it has been ever before. Perhaps because I spent my last two springs abroad. Yet the fog was very much there this fall too, I don’t remember it being there

previous falls. I have spent all my falls in Abu Dhabi for the past four years, at a place that has become home. A home that is plush and

comfortable, a home I will leave once again as I graduate in less than three months. A home I love yet crave to leave because it feels like the time has come. A feeling too familiar from four years ago when

I left Islamabad and its foggy winter mornings. I still remember that

fog and watching my father return from his morning runs, his orange running jacket drenched in dew. I always found that color hideous. I never understood what made him buy a jacket in that color at his

age. I saw that jacket a few days ago tossed over a chair as I video called “home� and was talking to my father. My first thought was

that the jacket had survived a long time; my second thought was the nostalgic memory of my father wearing it on foggy winter morning runs.

Falleras Suraiya Yahia

Enchanting smells/scents: The smell of freshly brewed coffee The men you love

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

Petrichor: smell of the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather

The faint smell of jasmine flowers on hot monsoon nights Bergamot

The smell of sea

Pine trees in Murree hills



Scented candles

and if yes, with whom? But can this question ever be answered so

Warm chocolate cookies

ever understand what love is? Did you truly love someone or was it

Strawberries and cherries Freshly laundered clothes

The scent of newborn babies Mint tea

Old books and Old bookstores Repulsive smells/scents: Strong Oud on random Emiratis Caked up make-up New York subway Fried mushrooms Gym sweat Feet

Public washrooms

Old coconut water

Smell of another woman on the man you love Love: When someone asks me if I have ever been in love, I never know how to answer. I have never truly understood love; I think I have

never been in love. How can I know if I have been in love or am in

love when I don’t know what it means to be in love? Perhaps I have loved and I just didn’t know. Perhaps I think I did love and actually didn’t. Point being you can never tell, in hindsight nostalgia is too

strong and memories too blurred. In present, you’re too swooned.

You can never really know. I hate it when those in “love” boast that you just know it when it happens. For me, I was pretty sure one

particular time but turns out it was my mind’s spectacularly grand

trick to evade boredom. I knew it, yet I didn’t know. I let myself be fooled. This is usually an answer way more complicated than the

easily? Maybe by those who understand it. But then, can you really merely a complicated blend of infatuation, convenience, availability,

lust and boredom? My biggest fear is to love someone and not know that I loved them, to let them go and then on some random day

years later an epiphany strikes me, and I realize I loved them. What a sad life. But is thinking you’re in love and finding out years later that you’ve never been, worse? I guess I’ll never know.

Bridges: Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge,

Harvard Bridge, Sydney Harbor Bridge, London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Tower Bridge, Bridge of Sighs (Oxford), Bridge of Sighs (Venice), Bridge of Sighs (Cambridge), Mathematical Bridge,

Ponte Vicchio, Rialto Bridge, Bridge of Peace, Nine Arches Bridge Demodara, Qasr al-Nil Bridge, Suez Canal Bridge, Bosphorus

Bridge, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, MacArthur Causeway, Zero Point Interchange, Azadi Chowk Lahore, Sheikh Zayed Bridge.

Coffee: My love for coffee is almost a rebellious act. Coming from a land under years of colonization, my ancestor’s colonizers (or mine?)

imbedded two things very deeply within my people; insecurities and an undying love for tea (chai). You drink chai with breakfast, after

lunch, in the evening, after dinner, with guests and without guests,

on weddings, on funerals, when you’re sad and when you’re happy, basically all the time. It’s safe to say that Pakistan has a strong

tea culture (imagine the West’s drinking culture except with tea as the beverage). I would like to advance this allegory and claim that Pakistan has a drinking problem too.

questioner intends for it to be. People just want to know, yes or no,



Anyways, imagine growing up in such a land and preferring coffee! You’re an instant rebel, a wannabe “gora” (white person), a burger

(someone who is Westernized in a negative sense), an outcast. Not

that the world abroad understood me any better, people look at me funny at this “global leader’s institution” when I order a decaf latte

or a cappuccino. What person let alone a perpetually sleep deprived college student drinks a decaf? It’s very hard explaining people my

love for coffee yet attempting to keep my caffeine consumption low and my hydration intact. What better option than a decaf version of

a beverage I am in love with? But the world is a judgmental place no matter where you are.

Markets: Camden Lock Market, Borough Market, Covent Garden

Market, Portobello Road Market, Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Boston)

Chinatown Manhattan, Chelsea Market (NY), Raja Bazar, Moti Bazar, Liberty Market, Anarkali (Lahore), Urdu Bazar, Hell’s kitchen, Grand Bazar (Istanbul), Spice Bazar, Khan el-Khalili (Cairo), Central Souk

(Abu Dhabi), Carpet Souk, Camel Souk, Gold Souk, Madinat Zayed, Dubai Spice Souk, Mina Port, San Lorenzo (Florence), Flea Market Dry Bridge (Tbilisi), Nizami Küçəsi (Baku), İçərişəhər (Baku), The Rocks Markets (Sydney), Paddy's Haymarket.

Angélique Kidjo Hatim Benhsain Watercolor on paper



To Be a Woman Aiman Khurram

To be your own person is hard


But to be your own woman is even harder For they try to limit you

You, who are a lover

Restrain you

a cheater

But, which one of you will they burn?

a non-committer?

Box you

a passionate hater

Extinguish you

a committer

You, who are a wife

a mother

a daughter

Or You, who are a housewife

a stay-at-home mom

a sister

a lawyer

a girlfriend?

a doctor

an ethnographer?

Or You, who are an artist

a painter a writer

Or You, who are Fearless

a clarinetist


a pianist?



a cellist


Intimidated? Or

You, who are a believer a skeptic

an agnostic an atheist?



You, who are Veiled

Burka-clad Pious


Or You, who are a Dadaist

a Surrealist


a Nihlist


an Existentialist a Stoicist


a Hedonist?

You, who are Orthodox

Traditional Conservative Conformist Non-Conformist Unconventional? Or

To be your own person is hard

But to be your own woman is even harder “But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies.”

You, who are Dependent

Independent Roaring Silent?


For they try to limit you Box you

Restrain you

Extinguish you

But, which one of you will they burn?

You, who are a Drake-fan

a Classical enthusiast a Kurt Cobain-ian?

Or You, who glides at Le Bal, Paris

tattoos in Brooklyn parlours

cleans the slums in Karachi?



Stroll Tom Abi Samra


Airport Road 07  

The seventh issue of the NYUAD journal of student creative worjk.

Airport Road 07  

The seventh issue of the NYUAD journal of student creative worjk.