ether(bound) family editor in chief Jason Phillips managing editor
treasurer Sam Eleutario design editor Kendall Bousquet fiction editor Ariel Finkle prose editor Sam Eleuterio event planner Bridget Elmore publicity manager Theresa Brown copy editor Kaylee Maynard
cover art Tower of Flowers by Birdie Elmore
Contents Fall 2020 5
Maple Sriracha, Diary of a Candle Addict
9, February 2020, 7:32 P.M., Untitled
The Beautiful Butterfly
9 quantum physics Kendall 10 Black Lives Matter Emma Simonsen 11
12 Make America Decent Again Emma Simonsen 13 Map, Two Faced Cat Kalogeros, Emma Simonsen 14 Girls’ Night Out Oluwatoyin T. Okele 16
Electric Green, Electric Blue
17 Lime Green, Elsewhere Kate Ayers 18 Buried Gabrielle Honore 21
im not the person sitting in the courtyard
if the world doesnt end/after all this is over
A Destroyed Theme Park...Amature Graffiti...
Another Walk in the Park
28 altera in vita Kendall 29 Unnamed Kendall
Spring 2021 31
Untitled, Vol. 2, 桜
Me + The Moon, what would it take for me to be happy? Sarah, kendall
Flowers of Affection, Negative Space, The Good Place
34 pot and kettle, untitled Warith Balogun. Haley Weinstein 35 Mother Mary, collage Haley Weinstein, kendall 36 untitled collage, Body Haley Weinstein, Jade 37
Casey and the Dragon Chapter I: Old Stories
Concrete Garden, Bucket Swimming
Crooked Smiles, Mystery of Perception
Back Flourishing Flowers Birdie Elmore
Maple Sriracha Kate Ayers
Chipped baby blue windowsills and caramel-coated tabletops: the only way to get me out of bed at 5 a.m on a Sunday morning.
Diary of a Candle Addict
5:30 a.m: the tease of “what’s in the kitchen?” and the minute bliss of flicking on every crackling golden string just before the sign flips from closed to open. 7 a.m: dirty aprons tied around aching spines 11 a.m: dirty fingernails planting the squash and pumpkins ‘round back. Good morning to paprika and espresso beans. “How are you’s?” exchanged between chai tea and coconut milk steamed.
Day 12 All my candles are burnt out, lavender is dead. Day 36 I watch bodies fall outside my window, melted wax drips from my eyes down to my mask and gloves.
2 p.m: tattoos seasoned with cigarette smoke behind the bar; he’s always had a smile of Vermont maple syrup and a voice of blueberry pancakes.
Day 42 I’ve become high on lighter fluid and littered ashes, I need another hit but I’m government-authorized not to move.
4 p.m: the one dollar bill inked with the signature of our very first customer pinned to the wall by an old red thumbtack.
5 p.m: I’ve lost all of my sharpies and nearly all of my patience. 6 p.m: the sign flips from open to closed. All that’s left are the stains of maple sriracha on my last clean t-shirt. 5
move. Lavender is dead. I miss my candles.
9, February 2020, 7:32 P.M Kate Ayers
My friend says she has insomnia, she even takes medication for it. I can’t sleep at night either, so does that mean I should pop pills? Medication is way too expensive, nowadays. My father pays thousands of dollars every year just to stab himself with a needle every morning. He’s afraid of needles. My mom was in the emergency room the other day. I picked up the phone, listened to it ring, then felt my chest collapse when there wasn’t a voice on the other end. That happened three times. Mom. Dad. Brother. No answer. If only my dog had a phone, I think she would always pick it up. When my mom did call back, she told me it was about time I found someone new. “Your father’s gut tells me that you’ll meet someone soon, honey”. Hearing that from your mom is the equivalent of taping a “hang-in there” poster to the walls of a muted grey cubicle. “I’m sure dad’s gut is wrong this time, ma,” I say, knowing that my dad’s gut has never been wrong before. Some kid walked up to me in the library and asked me to follow him on Instagram. Little did he know I would rather follow his footsteps than his Instagram about stickers and skateboards. You know, he’s not really my type now that I think about it. Hopefully, the voice on the other end of the next phone call will be older, more outgoing, funnier, and a bit more affectionate. I think I love people too much, and my friends tell me that I’m overly-friendly. Was it such a crime to ask for the waitress’s name and ask her how her day was going? I didn’t know that I was crossing a boundary; I certainly didn’t mean to make Paige uncomfortable. I have been listening to Andrea Bocelli for the past three straight hours, and once again, my friends think that I am strange.
Untitled Kate Ayers
What’s saving you is what’s killing me. -Empathy
The Beautiful Butterfly Tara Roumes
Through the battered and beaten window of her run-down cottage, Scarlett’s eyes--red from no sleep--follow the fluttering patterns of a vibrant butterfly. The butterfly, who Scarlett named Liberty, landed on the wooden window sill every day as the sun made its way to the top of the autumn sky. The window was open slightly, letting a brisk fall breeze send a chill along Scarlett’s spine and made the curtains that were once clean, without holes, dance against the cracked wall. It was just past seven o’clock in the morning. In Scarlett’s mind, she thought she would sleep longer without her husband beside her in bed. In her mind, she thought she would sleep off the pain of her husband’s rough hands from the previous nights before. Instead, she didn’t sleep at all, fearing the scenarios she made up in her head. Her burntout eyes leer at the brown bedroom ceiling and her ears listen to the snores of her sleeping husband behind the closed door of the bedroom. Though it was locked, she still did not feel a sense of safety. As the sun finally shined through the bedroom, Scarlett takes hesitant steps towards the window, avoiding the creeks of the unstable floorboards beneath her. In her hands is a freshly brewed cup of tea, so hot it almost burns the palm of her hands. Unaware of the heat from the mug, Scarlett begins humming a tune of a song her mother used to sing to her. When she was little, Scarlett’s mother was ill, too ill to care for her daughter. She told Scarlett not to worry about her--to explore the world--and one day when she sees a beautiful butterfly to think of her mother
who so badly wanted to see her daughter grow old. After sipping the steaming tea, Scarlett’s eyes watch as Liberty flaps her delicate wings, sending her out into the world until the next morning. “My beautiful butterfly, oh how have you grown, Hidden from the world were your beautiful colors, You escaped a world you once called home. My beautiful butterfly, oh now can you see, That change takes time, but heals the soul, My beautiful butterfly, you are finally free.” As Scarlett finishes the song, she inches closer to the window. The air from outside is brisk, making her reach the rusty latch shutting the window tight. “See you tomorrow, Liberty,” Scarlett whispers with a smile, closing the thin curtains. The sounds of heavy footsteps and muffled words make Scarlett jump to her worn-out feet. She quickly pulls her raggedy robe over her fragile body, hiding the marks from the years of her marriage. Suddenly, the handle on the door begins shaking vigorously, followed by ferocious knocks. The lock on the door begins loosening slowly and Scarlett was not able to prepare. With a cracking of the wood and the sound of the metal knob hitting the hallowed floor, Scarlett’s husband who had fallen asleep at the dining room table, pushes open the bedroom door. His presence is followed by a stench of whiskey and dirt from the previous days of work. His voice is raspy, possibly he is still drunk from last night. He lunges forward to Scarlett making her sink into her own skin as he snatches the mug straight from 7
her petite hands. “I see no breakfast on the table,” He spits, examining the half-drunken cup of tea. Scarlett’s face scrunches as the stench of the alcohol burns her nose. Her husband’s words are harsh, his voice is thick. “Dear, I had just woken up,” Scarlett lies, frantically trying to put distance between them. “I was just-,” Scarlett’s quiet voice is interrupted by the smashing of the mug, shattering to the ground, once again leaving marks on the floor Scarlett had been busy cleaning all night. She had wasted another night preparing a delicious meal, peeling potatoes, steaming vegetables. She had wasted another night putting on a slim dress and brushing her hair. Wasted another night setting the table while her husband moved sluggishly from the couch finishing his sixth beer, then stumbling to the table, not even tasting the food before chasing it with a heavy shot of whiskey. Scarlett had wasted another night incarcerated in this old, run-down home, instead of exploring the world she sees views out of her window every morning. Sometimes she pictures herself as that butterfly that looks so beautiful as it flutters off into the distance. Off into the world of the unknown. “I’m going to work,” Her husband grunts as his hands once again lands on her torn skin. He pushes her back roughly onto the ground and Scarlett winces, holding in her cry as a shard of glass from the mug slices her hand. With no door to slam, her husband arrogantly kicks the bedside table sending the lamp that once belonged to Scarlett’s mother forcefully to the ground. Once the sound of the slamming front door rang in Scarlett’s ears, she sprints to the bathroom knocking over a trail of beer bottles. The water from the faucet burns at her bleeding skin as she tries to heal her fresh wound. “My beautiful butterfly…” Scarlett sings, her voice breaking with every breath. Her body is close to collapsing as she was only fueled by a cup of tea she barley finished and pain medication that she emptied from the cabinets last night. “My beautiful butterfly…” Her words come out in the slightest whisper as she shuffles her way back to the bedroom. Her weight is supported by the walls that now have traces of blood leading around the house. Using her shaky hands, Scarlett rips off the pillowcase that belongs to her
husband. She forcefully stuffs her belongings into it, careful not to get blood onto her best dress or her favorite silk pajamas. Using her own pillowcase, she wraps it tightly around her hand, already seeing the blood bleed through. “My beautiful butterfly…” Gasping for her own breath, her tears stain her bruised cheeks. With one hand, Scarlett hurries around the bedroom, frantically ripping money out of hiding places she has kept hidden over the past years. Just as she was about to run, her eyes catch a glimpse of the lamp that is in pieces beside her bed. “Mother,” she cries. “I am going to explore the world.” With one last look then swift steps, Scarlett runs as fast as she can through her rundown home. A home that is broken, destroyed. A home that is filled with sadness, anger, and hatred. A home that holds secrets of what happens during dinner, what happens when Scarlett forgets to take out a drink for her husband. A home that was only home for one of the people living in it. She could barely feel her feet moving beneath her. The throbbing of her wounded hand is pounding just like her feet against the rocky road. Wondering where she is running to, Scarlett jolts to a stop to look back at the window she used to stare out of. The window where she would see the outside, aching to explore the world. The window where she found comfort through Liberty, as she came fluttering to the window sill each morning. As Scarlett turns to gaze at the path ahead of her, orange and yellow fills her vision. Flying right beneath her nose is Liberty, but this time, the butterfly is not flying to the window sill. Instead, she leads the way down the dirt path with Scarlett shuffling behind. And at that moment, Scarlett begins singing the song her mother sang to her in previous years. Her teary, burning eyes kept sight of the fluttering butterfly. Her feet did the best they can to keep her steady and her voice, with barely anything left, sang the song of freedom. “My beautiful butterfly, oh how have you grown, Hidden from the world were your beautiful colors, You escaped a world you once called home. My beautiful butterfly, oh now can you see, That change takes time, but heals the soul, My beautiful butterfly, you are finally free.” 8
quantum physics Kendall
could the president of the united states really grab me if he wanted to? after all, eve came from the rib of adam so by god’s own rules the women is forever indebted to the man, right?
because eve came from adam adam can come all he wants adam did not come from eve you enjoy nothing adam can come all he wants so they can enjoy everything you enjoy nothing even if a law has to be broken
after all, eve came from the rib of adam so that has to be why mine are showing, right? without food for two days by choice but not really
so they can enjoy everything bend it even if a law has to be broken my back bends over backwards for you
that has to be why mine are showing, adam’s brain was eve’s body without food for two days by choice but not really the only thing worth noting has to look good
bend it black and blue my back bends over backwards for you blue and red
adam’s brain was eve’s body exist in the republic of gilead the only thing worth noting has to look good give me children or else ill die
black and blue this is the land of the blue and red red white & blue
exist in the republic of gilead but make it modest give me children or else ill die god says the eyes are enough to penetrate
this is the land of the AMEN! red white & blue you could not be you
but make it modest so we look longer god says the eyes are enough to penetrate blessed be the meak,
AMEN! without someone like me you could not be you nothing that is observed is unaffected by the observer
so we look longer right mr. president? blessed be the meak, commander in chief wants to command this body
without someone like me nolite te bastardes carborundorum nothing that is observed is unaffected by the observer glass shards and blood decorate the floor
right mr. president? because eve came from adam commander in chief wants to command this body adam did not come from eve 9
BLM Ahmaud Arbery Emma Simonsen
BLM Breonna Taylor Emma Simonsen
BLM George Floyd Emma Simonsen 10
Classification feels like forced speed dating through tempered glass, but your date pre-hates James Ferry you, glances at you while tapping away on an old Dell desktop. She utilizes a speak-thru apHead down, follow the yellow line. Another paratus, you hold a receiver. Have any tattoos? maze-like hallway, another sharp turn, cater- Yes. Have you ever been in the military? No. wauls reverberating off the concrete, a lone Are you homeless? No. Are you taking any preleader bellowing over the noise: Keep moving, scription medication? No. Thinking about killing nuts to butts! Follow the body in front of you. yourself? Not just yet. The CO’s are about as calloused as humans can You wait to be live-scanned, a biometrics procebe. Not meanness for the sake of it, probably, dure that will scrutinize and record your physjust an aggressive strain of antipathy. This is what icality: fingerprints and photographs are—like Nuremburg was like, you think—and Yale, ex- everything else now—in “the cloud.” Follow cept for Stanley Milgram in his white lab coat the blue line to anther holding area, whereupwe have mostly non-white ex-military in mut- on you’re ordered to strip. Minions canvass with ed green. It’s essential that you continue with blue net bags, collecting street clothes. Now the experiment. They’re not sadistic by nature; you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with twenty they’re playing dress up. They’re just following dudes: all of us holding our junk, dehumanized. Then it’s off to the showers, a seemingly endorders. less row of spouts lining concrete walls. You’re Blue line to cell B, let’s go! The search-out room resembles a gym, rectangu- barely even wet when someone pelts you with lar, packed with (mostly) brown bodies. There’s white powder. Rub it all over your body! (They a yellow line going around the perimeter, a red no longer use DDT, at least.) Another long hallline just inside of it. You’re warehoused with way, another gymnasium, naked bodies side by about twenty others for inspection: forty palms side, deputies perched on the periphery, armed flush against the wall, as instructed. If there is with two species of spray gun. What teargas will ANYTHING holding up your pants, remove it! accomplish that pepper spray won’t isn’t entireLarge men run their hands harshly over bent ly clear. Okay, now all of you turn around and bend over! Spread your cheeks! Now squat and bodies, bodies that squirm and wriggle but don’t cough! resist. It’s too late for that. Remove your shoes! Here a young dreadlocked man draws the line. (Clearly some are in charge, others are new like “Fuck you, motherfuckers! You can kiss my fuckyou.) One large one paces red-faced, shoulders ing ass! I’m not taking this shit anymore!” back. When I say GO you’re gonna remove your There’s a scuffle and the wretch is overpowered, socks. You’re gonna do this by peeling them off seized by the neck, and subdued to the ground. your feet, inside out. Hold one sock in each They pin him in four-point restraints and wheel hand. Hold them out in front of you while you’re him off like beef. Your chest blood lurches. Had looking down at the ground. Do not shake ‘em, a full-scale riot broken out, how would you— wave ‘em, snap ‘em or swing ‘em. Go! new white fish—have handled yourself? Now it’s your turn to be searched. Submit to the Every man gets his county blues. Some receive procedure: the cop aggressively groping your yellow pants (later you will learn that they have crotch, up and down each appendage, no crev- “proven” themselves to be either gay or insane). ice inviolable. There’s no contraband but you’re Now you’re in what appears to be the nucleus subjugated all the same. Again, it’s time to of the IRC, which resembles the lobby of any march. If you have a long-sleeve shirt on, roll up overcrowded, underfunded city hospital. Rows the sleeve covering your wristband. We’re not of metal benches and whitewashed walls, winconcerned with your name. All we want to see dows reinforced with metal caging. Seems odd is the metal clasp. Have your wristband ready to that they’d be playing music let alone Metallica, but there it is, usurping the soundscape. Sleep be scanned. Yellow line, cell one! 11
with one eye open/gripping your pillow tight. Exit light. Enter night. Take my hand. We’re off to never-never land. The guy beside you is doing air guitar, says he “knows how to play this.” He’s white and beefy, slightly disheveled, an unruly mullet on his head. His hands are dirty, his pants yellow. “It’s not really that hard,” you say, hoping not to offend him. He seems not to mind, maybe because it’s chow time. No need to be grabby; sacks are abundant. Your neighbor puts down his guitar and opens his lunch. He punctures the jelly packet, holds it higher than necessary, and squeezes out a long purplish ooze that spills onto his bread. Bologna you got. A little mustard and it might taste like a hot dog. “Name’s Rambo,” he says. You look at him skeptically, so he shows you his wristband. His fucking name is Rambo. Mother was a big fan of the movie, he explains. “Had high hopes for me back then. Now I’m headed to the towers.” He asks how you’re classified. You’re not sure, you say, maybe segregation. He studies your wristband, sees that you’re K-11. “High power,” he says, looking you over. “Don’t look like no killer to me.” You lean in closer. This is risky. Disclose to the wrong person that you’re related to a cop and you’ll get jacketed a punk, snitch, or some species of jailhouse bitch. Rambo just nods, holds up his wrist. He’s K-6, headed to queen’s row. Your secret’s safe with him. You wait hours to be X-rayed for tuberculosis. Then you’re ushered through medical screening. The doctor asks you if you want to hurt yourself. No, you say. She asks if there are voices talking to you. You’re tempted to yes, hers is, but flirting in here would be futile. If I were to put a rope in front of you, what, if anything, would you do with it? Objection, calls for speculation. Follow the yellow line to cell one, hands in your pockets! A CO escorts you to a holding cell. Concrete benches line the walls, large white bricks like in grade school. Sit on the cold hard floor, thankful to be alone. Peruse the graffiti, etched into the paint via some elusive sharp object. There’s reinforced glass on either side of the steel door, and a window on the door itself, all designed to impede privacy. You can see the holding cells across the way where bodies stir. A female jaile
with a dry erase marker walks by and scrawls ETIHW on your window. Across the hall she scribbles BLACK and on an adjacent one, HISP. That the holding cells are segregated is unsurprising, but this corralling of human cargo according to skin color—it’s disheartening. It’s like a flesh factory. The CLA-CLANK of the lock sends a jolt. You hadn’t dozed off, just zoned out. A man enters, shuffles around, and lies down contentedly with toilet paper tucked under his head. He informs you that he’s in for statutory (she was seventeen, he swears). Just the two of you for now, but across the way the cells are already overcrowded. Privilege even in here, ghettos wildly unbalanced. No attention is paid to severity of crime or level of guilt. We’re not concerned with your name. Just a lot of blue and yellow, bodies that follow, and cells that contain.
Make America Decent Again
Cat Kalogeros A map was traced upon her face of all the pouring tears past Filled with dead ends and broken trails that she always hoped would last The key was old and crumbling Her precious thoughts were wasted No one would ever listen to all the tears she tasted Her heart was traveled by many But no one stopped to see the view Everybody lacked the deep respect for all that she went through Her eyes had seen much better days But the thought of hope quickly decays She starts on yet another path And the careless world around her starts to laugh
Emma Simonsen 13
Girls’ Night Out Oluwatoyin T. Okele
If their ridiculous black tulle skirts hadn’t already struck fear into my heart (like, call the fashion police, if the normal police can’t get here in time), the vrooming chainsaw and sharp axes in their hands would have. The one on the left swung at me with something that looked like a Viking weapon, which would have been totally cool if it wasn’t utterly bedazzled with cheap dollar store rhinestones. Not that it would have been less tacky with like Swarovskis or anything. So to recap really quick, I had heard that there was like some sort of party in the forest tonight, to honor the full moon or something. I went, but only because Melanie said that something totally wild might be happening there, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a place like that. Me and Mel had been having issues recently, but nothing that a good girls’ night out couldn’t overcome. We went, and Mel showed up in this outfit that I won’t even sear your minds by describing, and I knocked on the door of this like seriously dilapidated (SAT word! Take that, Ms. Morgan) shack of a cabin straight out of a movie. This girl, who had way too much eyeshadow on, peeped her eyes out and sneered at my ensemble (!) until Mel told her I hadn’t known there was a dress code. A dress code, I asked her, if you knew there was one, why didn’t you tell me, like, I’m not really into Brides of Dracula™ chic but if it’s really that important... Mel then said something I did not catch, it was all muffled like an old staticky tv, but it made that girl happy enough to open the door wider. Then we entered and saw all these goth chicks sitting in a circle, with candles surrounding them and various mysterious things in their hands. I figured out what this event was by taking a quick look around. Tacky yet somehow appropriate décor? Check. Girls whispering in hushed tones? Check. Supposedly supernatural stuff and fortune-telling going on? Triple check. This was all pretty on brand for a slumber party. The girls slid, opening the circle for us to
sit. I turned my head to ask Mel if she knew anyone here other than Caitlin from calculus, but before I could say anything, someone stood up. The head goth girl, it looked like, who was wearing what looked like a vintage wedding dress that she had ripped up and splashed black dye all over (a tragic loss, that wedding dress, the lace detailing was to die for), spoke from behind a (thankfully) white veil. “The ceremony shall now commence.” Ceremony, I thought? So, is this more like a wedding? Like a secret subculture one? “Rise, Maidens of the Black Narcissus!” I stayed down, clearly not a Maiden of the Black Narcissus, but Mel didn’t. I looked up at her, but she avoided eye contact. “Tonight, we shall achieve what has been denied the rest of humanity.” Pause for dramatic effect. “Eternity!” So this probably should have made wanna dip right out right then and there, but, I mean, I was curious about what she was about to spell. If I could extend my reign of the school for a little longer, that’d be a good thing, right? “But to obtain it, we need to make a sacrifice to our benefactor,” she continued in that loud contralto voice. She stuck out her hand, and I had to admire her immaculate manicure, even if the shade Midnight Noir was so try-hard. “Priestesses.” Mel and two other girls came out from the circle, and the lead girl placed crowns of twigs on their heads. I had known that Mel had joined a new club, but this caught me totally off guard. “Priestesses,” she continued, opening a long, coffin shaped wooden box, “retrieve the sacramental items.” And then everyone turned to me. So then, we come back to where I left off, with emo chick on the left trying to make me into firewood. I scream my lungs out and run out of the cabin, hearing their big combat boot thighhighs following right on my heels, which, totally great, snap once I try to jump over a log. The axe girls show up. “Hey, Laura,” one of them calls. She swings at me, but I slide under, swipe my cracked stiletto heel and stab her in the foot, through the leather. She drops the axe and squeals, but be14
fore I can escape again, the other girl swings her own blade at me. I dodge but not fast enough, and while the swing was so strong she moves with it and falls, she leaves a red line on my arm, and, I can’t believe this, cuts off part of my hair. I start seeing red as some of my dark blonde locks hit the ground, and breathing heavily, I take off my other shoe. I don’t wait for her to gather the strength to rise and swing that heavy thing again, I crawl over to her and take the chance to slide my heel into the layers of her skirt and the dirt, pinning her to the ground. It catches her as she stands up, but
(RIP my faithful Marciano. I’ll have a funeral for you after I finish avoiding mine), but it seems to busy the thing enough for it to get messed up. She abandons it and chases after me, but I’ve really had enough of running. I try to trip her with my foot, but she falls right on top of me, and we start slapping and scrapping. She’s pretty strong (all that tennis!), but don’t think that I can’t get her. People underestimate how much cheerleading and ballet require of you. With a push, I get her off of me, then flip out of her reach, making sure my feet don’t miss her. After recovering from my kick, she
rips off when she tries harder, the golden stake popping out of the hole. Desperately, in an attempt to do what worked before, I grab the stake, take her hand, and play matchmaker. I jump up and sprint away faster than the sweaty speeders at track as her scream echoes into the distance. Mother was right, fashion really is pain. And then Mel appears in front of me, her blue eyes ice cold and her outfit still cursed, swinging that chainsaw around like that guy with the face on his face. “Mel,” I yell, “Is this about the thing with Jackson Carter?” “Well, yeah, duh!” She charges at me, and I almost panic, but I do what I need to do: I take my pink fur coat and toss it onto the chainy bits. It gets all torn up
stands to follow me, but I pirouette around her to grab her hair. “Ouch, you witch!” “How am I the witch when you’re the literal cultist?” She continues blubbering back at me, but I’m not listening. With all my strength, I push her back to the ground, and hold her arms above her. “Are you done?” She wriggles, tight in my grip, and then sighs. “I guess so.” I stand up and brush the dirt and blood off my formerly white shirt. “The dry-cleaning bill is gonna be murder,” I groan. “Hey, Mel, let’s go grab dinner at Magnolia’s.” “Hell yeah,” she says as she gets up. “Their meringues are totally killer.” 15
Electric Green Birdie Elmore
Electric Blue Birdie Elmore
Lime Green Kate Ayers
Paralyzed clouds capture my vision which is not tinted by the roses, nor by the lilacs laying on my neighbor’s doorstep. I watch the stillness of the sky in lime green. I see the world in a color as vibrant as the future sunsets that will pour over my skin like melted butter. My eyes are veiled in lime ambition that wishes to hold the hands of someone who knows love, who knows betrayal, who knows the ecstasy that is the taste of hot coffee and chilled raspberries in the morning after a week of enticing words to die or to dance. “How beautiful is the life that’s lived in lime green,” I say after noticing the clouds’ sudden twitch and inevitable drift into the moon’s direction— the sign to walk to my own doorstep and wait for the sky to stop moving once again.
Elsewhere Kate Ayers
Dusk flirted with darkness amid endless space beyond sleeping adirondack chairs shards of silver moonlight bounced on and off black water the star’s glow blushed against the apples of the sky’s cheeks a drowsy breeze tip-toed over the tides strumming a most inviting lullaby scents of fresh salt and smoke releasing from a whispering fire hang over the lips of an unforgotten memory slipping in and out of consciousness thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in your arms 17
Gabrielle Honore My head was pounding. What was the last thing I could remember? Think. Think! Where had I been? Where was I now? I took a breath in, tasting the stale air on my tongue. I definitely wasn’t somewhere I had been before. I pressed my hand onto the surface below, feeling a smooth wood beneath me. I’m safe. Everything is fine. I’m not in danger. I took another breath in, absolutely bitter, and for the first time it occurred to me I should open my eyes. Why couldn’t I? Fear. Only fear! My heartbeat was still so rapid I could almost feel my chest getting ready to explode. Why am I afraid? Back to thinking. The bar. The bar! I was at the bar. I met my date. Kelly was there to protect me in case he was a creep. I had to be in her room, right? Something had gone wrong and she had taken me to her house. You slept here. You’re waking up now. Deep breath. Extend your arm. Feel around. Thud against the wall next to you. Thud against the wall next to you?
Extend your other arm. Something soft, then something hard. Walls on both sides. What was soft? It felt smooth. Was that skin? Open your eyes! I jolted up, hitting my head against another wooden surface, slamming back to the one beneath me. Where are you? Calm down. What’s happening? The voices. The voices! Shut up shut up shut up!!! Deep breath. Silence now. Nothing from around me. Definitely not in any house. Open your eyes. This time I obeyed. They opened slowly, but served no purpose. It was dark. I couldn’t see. No light? Where was the light? What could I light? The lighter. The lighter! I reached into my pocket, and got the lighter I keep for my cigarettes. Light it. Light it. Are you afraid? You’re afraid. I’m not afraid! Smooth skin against the cool metal, and a single flame. Not too much light, enough to see in front of me. I put it right above my chest, and saw mahogany colored wood straight above me. There was no room. Another stale breath. Where was I? 18
I moved the lighter to my right side. Wall next to me. Oh no. No No No No NO! Buried. Buried below! I couldn’t think. My thoughts were racing. The voices. Check your other side. What was soft? Think. Just enough room to lay on my side a bit. Get comfortable. I was so uncomfortable. I adjusted slowly, and lit the light. Kelly? Kelly. Kelly! What was going on? Shake her awake! Kelly, wake up! I shook her. Nothing. Think. Think! She wasn’t getting up. I moved the lighter closer to her face to see her. Blood. So much blood, still dripping from her nose. Blood everywhere. Her eyes were gone. Where were her eyes? Taken right out of the sockets, nothing in their place. Gone? Gone. Gone! Something white peeking out of her mouth. What was it? Open her mouth. No. No, don’t touch her! She’s dead, don’t touch her!
The voices. They won’t stop. Where were they coming from? What were they? Set the lighter down. Open her mouth. I put the lighter down, then parted her cold, pale lips. I grabbed a small piece of paper from them. What’s this? I turned again, laying flat on my back. I grabbed the lighter, I lit it once more. I read. “Don’t be alarmed. This is your doing. You should have been good. You’ll be let out soon.” Soon? Soon! How long was I here? Who did this? That scumbag of a date, of course. He got Kelly. Why didn’t he kill me too? Scumbag. Murderer. Liar. Creep. Stop that! I can’t believe it. What happened? Think, you idiot! At the bar. Drinking. Dancing. Fun! Not fun. Drinking. Dancing. Touching. I didn’t want that. What happened? He must have slipped you something, of course. Scumbag! Murderer! Liar! Creep! STOP THAT! So loud. Why so loud? Who are they? What do they want? I tried to stretch, but couldn’t
without disturbing Kelly’s body. Not enough room. In your brain? In your brain. No, you idiots! In this box! Was it a box? Was it a coffin? So old school, who gets buried alive anymore? Obviously you, you idiot. You got buried alive. Buried alive. Buried alive. Ha! Ha ha ha! I was buried alive. How stupid. I can’t believe I managed to get buried alive. What is this? Come on, what year is it? I’m not some old timey wench. Another deep breath. My throat burned. It was dry. I didn’t realize how dry it was. You’re suffocating. You’re suffocating! Oh god. How long had I been here? How long could you breathe in a coffin? 5 hours. 5 hours! How did you know that? Doesn’t matter. Can you get out? No she can’t get out! Hit the lid. I slapped the wooden frame above me. Was I buried? It didn’t seem like it. No resistance against it. No dirt? Maybe not. Hit it again. Hit it again! I hit it harder this time. It budged. Bits of dirt came crumbling in. 19
Dirt? There’s dirt! Of course there’s dirt, you idiot! We’re buried! With both hands I pushed against the lid, as hard as I could with the little strength I had. You’ll run out of oxygen, idiot. You’ll run out! You’re running out of time. Tick tock. Let me think! Silence. I pushed harder. I heard a creak. Can you yell? Use your voice! Do you still have a voice? Of course she has a voice. “Help! Someone help!” It was faint. Hoarse. Hardly anything. I grabbed the lighter again. Look around. He left you a clue! Maybe there’s another? Look around! I lit the fire. I looked near Kelly, and on the other side of me. Another piece of paper. Read it. Read it! Read it now! I obeyed. “The string is hidden in the corner, nailed to the wall. Ring the bell when you’re ready.” Bell. What bell? A string? Shut up! I searched the corners next to me, and there it was, a string as thin as fishline. Pull it. Pull it! It has the bell! I pulled it. Nice and sturdy. Was that a jingle?
Ring it again! I pulled the string over and over again, until there was a thud above me. What was that? Oh no! It’s him! Deep breaths. Someone’s here to save you. That’s all. Saved? We’re saved! The lid opened. It was not bright, there was no light into heaven. This was real. There he was, his ghostly pale features and sunken eyes looking down at me. There was a sly grin upon his lips. “That took longer than I expected it to, hot stuff. Still, good job. Let me help you up.” Hot stuff? Who does he think he is? He did this to you! Don’t go with him, he’ll kill you like he did Kelly! He reached his arm toward me, a gesture to help. I didn’t take it. “Oh come on, let’s get this show on the road. They’ll find us soon if we don’t get out of town. I’m not going back to jail, it’s with or without you.” What? Why is he talking like we’re a team? We’re a team? We’re a team! Remy! Oh, Remy. How could we forget? I reached for his hand, and he grabbed onto it so tight I thought my bones would be crushed. He pulled me up and
held me in a warm embrace. Oh what love. How lovely. My love. He kissed me on the lips so tenderly. His hands were so warm against mine. Oh, love. He lifted me out of the pit, not quite six feet but deep enough nonetheless. Kelly’s body. Did you kill Kelly? You killed Kelly! Bury the body! I giggled. We killed Kelly. Ha. Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha! I helped Remy out. He grabbed a shovel, and started covering the coffin. It wasn’t perfect, hardly staying together. He cut the bell. I stood there while he worked. A hero. Our hero! I love him. It was dark outside. Too dark. What time was it? How long had we been here? They’ll catch you. They’ll catch you! “Re-” I coughed, clearing my throat. “Remy, they’ll catch us. Let’s go.” He finished covering the grave. I heard sirens. Sirens? The cops! They found you! Run. Run! “Ella come on!” he shouted, and before I knew it he was lost in darkness.
Where did he go? Where are we? What do we do? Run. Run! I couldn’t move. I collapsed above the dirt. I kept smiling. Why was I smiling? My cheeks hurt. You’re smiling too much. Stop that. Stop that! I need to get up. Get up. Get up! Too late. There were hands pulling me up. Cold metal against my wrists. Sirens. So much shouting. They won’t stop shouting! What are they saying? I can’t understand! I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. I wonder what I could hear. Listen. Listen to them! Shut your mouth. I can’t hear over your obnoxious laughter! I didn’t stop. I listened. I caught bits and pieces. “They drugged her… buried her here? What kept them… insane.” Insane. Insane! Insane insane insane insane!! We’re not insane. No. NO! They dragged me away.
im not the person sitting in the courtyard Kendall
there is a place that is not my home but the place is where i live not where i want to be but not sure if its where i need gray this place is gray like cement that desperately needs to be paved theres flowers and berries to trick the eye but these flowers dont turn to wishes and the berries will stop your heart at first lick even the bees cant be fooled all the life contained, controlled, capsized between four gray walls im not the person sitting in the courtyard nor the bee falling in unrequited love i am the dead worm hidden in the corner of gray underneath the fantasy of falsehood crushed by a boot
if the world doesnt end / after all this is over Kendall
mom cradled me in her arms as the towers fell 1 her vision turned to gray, and so did the sky ash cascaded down, hate rose like smoke, a new hell my eyes read of innocence, theirs of a war cry i fit into this world like a hook and eye. if the world doesn’t end, after all this is over she spoke to herself, to her child to get by the night sky turned black, no planes would flyover entered in a world of change, a world that drove her.
so easy to look, so hard to look away. didnt commit the crime, but made the doomsday parents are supposed to teach love, not war. now expecting each love to end with a betray losing the trust of a mother, what is more others’ world ended cause of me, thats what i cry for. when it came to love, i feared for my life, yours too. not from the uncertainty, but from the certainty that just maybe this time around it wont fall through. i loved you like a winced raised hand; fearfully expecting the expected to blow, purposefully awaiting a knife in the back upfront. its been five years and the rope round my neck is carelessly loose. i want to tie myself to you, to your skin if the world ends, you will always be my green gem.
i was eight years old when the panic set in heart forgot its rhythm, lungs forgot its breath sickness settled in my mind like it was kin drove to madness by an invisible heft results read healthy, nothing wrong with the pleth. so young yet so hopeless, not a soul that could see eight and locked in a bathroom stall, expecting death. will this ever be over, can you guarantee that my world will not end, god, what is wrong with me.
locked behind a desk thinking of anything else future determined by someone ive never met. accept what is, especially since i excel parents want to talk school, i just want to forget. to be a perfect daughter, not so dead set to not see disappointment when i just want life. after all this is over, right, thats a lost bet they smile and congratulate me on my ‘great’ rife smile with swollen wet eyes, swallowing a knife
the woman that gave me life, my mom, broke when she lost the person she lived for. the grief had a gravity that she never woke from, a scar that will exist evermore. everybody makes it till they dont, my core unable to digest its first death. i fear for my mom, my family, for me, this loss tore the personality from her person, my dear moms world ended, yet she is still here.
have you ever just cried because you are you, im numb yet in pain and no one can tell. a world consumed of gray and white and blue pills to rid unwanted guests in my mind motel, without a heart or mind i would do so well. my body lives on, when it so clearly wants not to says this ride wont end, never ending carousel. when the pain resides itll be back like deja vu worlds on a branch like a nest, one of the cuckoo.
desire to love ran through my veins like i ran after you. i was just twelve, we were bestfriends. fairy tales told me to run towards you, a man always keeps his word. but you were a boy, no friend sleeping by the toilet while you sent your amends feeding me promises that you fed to her too. two years lost and two friends gone with a kiss to end long nights laid awake thinking what i didnt do my world will end on this bathroom floor, that i knew.
i havent left my house in forty six days the sun rises and sets, as if the deaths not real masked mouths, lowhanded leaders, not even halfway. wealth is better than health, so they try to conceal people with guns are more just than those that kneel. the world may not end, but maybe we are at last after all this is over, words now so surreal i have stood this ground before, my world has collapsed i have seen dark before, this too i can outlast.
i have always been too curious at least thats what they always say guess they were right since it turned out injurious 22
A Destroyed Theme Park...Amature Graffiti... The Pursuit of Ghosts Samuel Eleutario
Rocky Point State Park was a neighborhood hotspot back in the day. It had everything. Community pool? Check. Clamcake stand? Check. Giant ski-lift ride that let people get a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic Ocean? You know they had that! Quick sidebar for all of my readers who have never been to Rhode Island, a clamcake is a ball of salty deep fried dough with bits of chopped clams inside. They’re great with Tabasco. Alright, back on track. “Where is this hidden gem of an amusement park?” I hear you ask. It’s hidden in a crevasse of Rhode Island’s seemingly endless coastline. At least it was, now all that is left are ruins. A hurricane destroyed the park decades ago. Rocky Point is still open to visitors, but more as a destination to have a walk, rock climb, or play with your dog. I’ve lived near this place most of my life. One time, I stumbled upon an old man trying to catch stray radio signals on one of the taller hilltops. I’ve had a psychedelic trip in that park. I’ve been here on assignment when I was an intern for a local newspaper. The last time I visited Rock Point was pre-pandemic. I brought a girl I was dating to the park for a picnic excursion. It was a day full of sunshine and kisses. But, nationwide lockdown for the foreseeable future has an incredible ability to smother a kindling romance. October 30th, 2020. An unseasonal bit of weather has hit Southern New England. At the tail end of a week of nothing but rain, the storm turned into snow; blanketing trees with a layer of white on top of their orange, red, and yellow leaves. As I drove to the park, I couldn’t be bothered by the weather. I had just gotten results for a Covid test that morning. To say that learning that I did not have a highly contagious deadly disease made me happy, would be an understatement. Bundled up in a scarf, hat, hoodie, and overcoat I ventured out into the elements like a child on a snow day. My weatherproof boots sank into the saturated open field while snow blew on my back. I looked out into the grey skyline to try to find a landmark through the horrible visibility. A radio tower stands proud against the evergreen trees behind it. I chuckled because the tower reminded me of an episode of a bizarre Japanese anime. Even though my shoes were mostly waterproof, I paid careful attention to where I stepped on the flooded plains. I once lost a pair of shoes to some stubborn pond mud as a child; I’ve never trusted the stuff since. I continued to scan my surroundings as I walked. I was drawn to the ruins of the ski lift. They loom over the landscape like guardians of a lost temple. Green and rust colored giants slumbering, waiting for an intruder to try and swipe their golden goose. From this distance, I can 23
see where people boarded and got off the ride, but not where the loop returns. It was somewhere dozens of feet up hidden among the trees and boulders.One of the songs stuck in my head that day was from The Flatbush Zombies’ mixtape Better Off Dead. “Today's agenda, a nation exterminating the pious/Pray that you never die, don't dare to be deemed the highest/Our right is founded by liars, righteous as my suppliers/They wonder where my supply is...” I haven’t heard that album in years but it popped in there regardless. Maybe the haunting piano melody just fit perfect with this time of year. I slogged through the wet ground at a quickening pace, something in front of the structure caught my eye. An info card, like you would see at a museum (I heard some museums are open again, but I still haven’t been back). Apparently, this thing was called “The Skyliner” back in the day. In better weather I would have taken time to read the history of this specific relic. Instead, I admired the graffiti on the cement stairs that were just behind the sign. Something sanctioned by the city, like the info card next to this criminalized artform makes me smile. For a minute the snow doesn’t feel as cold as it should. Slick. I think artists have a word for a word that intentionally looks like another word, but I don’t know. The ground leading up to the left ramp had a steady stream of water running down it. It looked like a tiny river. I briefly think about rivers and their ability to make canyons. Once I’m on the platform, I’m staring at the dead engine that used to power this ride. Even on the platform the motor is a good eight feet above my head. Climb it! My Id cries. Then Superego chimes in, Yeah! Good idea. Cold, wet metal is gonna be easy and fun to climb. You might slip and crack your skull open. No one around to help you today. But, hey, do whatever you think is cool… I pace around the platform for another minute or two. Inspecting the other tags and stickers on the green riveted metal beam. The biggest one here is done by a beginner. The handstyle has thick, sloppy black lines. You can see where the kid held his paint can for too long in certain spots from the dripping paint. No finesse. I was so busy talking shit about this tag that I nearly missed what it actually said. Block letters about a foot high spell the name “Tyr”. Really? The wind finds the back of my neck. I shiver and remember tales of the Norse God of War and Justice. Tyr. Tyr (pronounced like water from your eyes) was a god of war worth worshiping. As the story 24
goes, in order to stop the demon wolf Fenrir from eating the world, he formulated a plan with the other gods in which Tyr volunteered to have his arm eaten in order to imprison the beast. What are the odds that someone else is enough of a fan of his to borrow his name to mark their place in the world? What are the odds that they and I sought refuge in the same place? I smiled and hummed more rap songs as I crossed the flooded field to climb to the summit of The Skyliner. The path I took toward the highest boulder was a different one than I had traveled before. A set of rail car tracks lay in my path. I walk down the middle trying to see how far into the woods they might have gone. After about ten paces the wood and metal has disappeared into the underbrush. Snow fell much more slowly under the cover of the trees. The bleak grey landscape has taken on Autumnal tones and multiple shades of grey from the sky and the monolithic rocks that rest here. The artistry of the tags on these giant stones is near zero. But they draw me in regardless. I spot a pair of black initials inside of a broken heart. The tag is placed right beneath an overhang that created a haven of dry earth. My stomach dropped and a pang of sadness shot through me. While I was driving down here today, I told myself that I was not going to go to any of the places that I went with her. I realized that was impossible when I resolved to go to the height of the Skyliner. I look up and can see my destination; another rusty green giant looking down on all the small folk. I knew the climb was going to be more difficult than normal given the mud, slick leaves, and slicker rocks. L.L.Bean boots are not meant for rock climbing. While looking for a safe route to the top, I found a small cavern where one giant stone leans on another. The top of a mostly buried rock asks in orange spray paint “Where is the love?” The lean-to cave is tagged with memorials to a lost musician, stage name Capital STEEZ, aka Steelo, aka King Capital. Steez, from Flatbush Brooklyn, was good friends with the Flatbush Zombies. Having their music in my head felt like serendipity now that I discovered this site. The memorial to Steelo made me feel like I was sixteen again. Steez was a lyrical genius, an acid head, and a visionary. He also suffered from untreated mental illness and committed suicide on Christmas Eve, 2012. He was nineteen. In 10,000 years anthropologists will come across this site and see the crowns, the hashtags, and the R.I.P.s. I wonder what they’ll say. I hope they figure out that he was a king. After being deep in my feels for a few minutes, I remember my goal and find a steep but not overtly dangerous path to the top. Tree roots and broken rocks are abundant and make good handholds and footfalls. Excited to get to the summit, I stopped paying attention to where my feet were for just long enough to slip on some leaves. My foot goes out behind me. Shit! Adrenaline washes over me. Three points of contact will always be stable. I dropped to one knee and recovered. A little dirty from mud, but steady and safe. The climb to the top only took a few minutes but the feeling that I was trailblazing was real. At the summit I took a deep breath as the memories from that windy March day came 25
back to me. Her mischievous smile, hypnotic blue eyes, a badass leather jacket that she “borrowed” from her aunt. White wine in Solo cups and hard candy infused with THC. Making out on the seawall while strangers above us tried to hurry along their gawking kids. “Buy a ticket if you want a show!” I shamelessly yelled up to the curious children… My breathing was heavy from the climb and my fa ce flushed from the memories. Back in the moment, I realized how badly I needed to piss. While I relieved myself off the top of a boulder, embracing the freedom of solitude, a sense of calm washed over me. Is it better to have loved and lost? I sure felt horrible when I got her letter ending things between us. But still, her words gave me some of the self esteem that I was lacking. “You made me feel beautiful, and smart, and special…You did everything right, but it’s just not right for me.” I finish up, fix my belt, and decide that Shakespeare was onto something. The Skyliner’s ruins are to my right. Giant slabs of concrete house the same rusty steel beams. The tags here make me smile. The most recently dated tag is in a sharp handstyle in red paint. I couldn’t make out the name of the tag but beneath it said “10/15/20 COVID19”. I inspected all sides of the concrete slab. It made sense to take it all in. There were two supports for the ride up here. At the base of the support closer to the edge I found the most wonderful gift. A tag so relatable and cathartic that I knew synchronicity had brought me here. And so, I will leave you with that gift as well...
Another Walk in the Park Birdie Elmore
I got myself stuck on a walk in the middle of the rain, nowhere to go, no place to hide. This is my life, I live outside, under slight cover from the elements, a girl in the rain, a girl made of puddles. Except, well, that’s a bit overdramatic. Give it a minute, the weather will change. In a hundred years, when I’m just bones buried deep, my walks are all going to look the same. One walk turns into two, and that blends into three, and that to four, five, three-hundred-and-forty-two million (plus six). They’ll all have been the same, all blue skies full of grey clouds—or maybe something more colorful, if it’s close to sunset—and green grass growing into stems, blooming into bright bulbs. The cotton candy clouds and lilac sunsets will all be one, the green of post-rain atmosphere a strange moment in a never-ending day. I know that it will be like one big walk, bordered in memory by smiles and tears and a noticeable lack of regret. This will be a portion of one very long slideshow. But this walk, unknowingly penultimate, will stand out. This is the walk where, instead of admiring strikingly pink petals, sitting before water that shines so brightly it nearly blinds me, I drink up the gloom of the universe. Rather than skies so blue you wouldn’t believe it, I’m beneath a sky so grey you’d be upset to see it. In memory, the flowers will hide from me, they’ll dive out of my way because, as some authority has decided, this isn’t that kind of walk. In memory, this will be a walk composed entirely of puddles, of raindrops whispering to each other as they fall on the ground beside me, on my hood and my sleeves, shimmying their way into the River Lee, having their own sort of celebration. In memory, this walk will smell suffocatingly of rainwater on hot pavement, even if it’s inaccurate. There is no light, and the world is greyer with each passing second, but once the clouds part, it will be that sort of weather where you just have to dance, the same as all the other walks, with pink and red and yellow flowers, grass all green and cool and welcoming. But for now I’m stuck outside in the rain, no way back but through puddles. It’s okay if I soak my socks, as long as I’m walking. As long as I’m walking, the sun and clouds or moon and stars can see me, and I can breathe in the air that tastes of happiness—pure, unbridled jubilation—and I’m home.
altera in vita Kendall
dirt. the dirt i woke up in had been laid there for me. i yawned and in return, the wind pat me on the back as a mother does for reassurance. i never knew that feeling before. i was asleep, but my soul had never felt more awake. dirt filled my palms and the world came alive. i didnt know if it was dusk or dawn, it was hard to make out the colors of the sky with all the nature blocking my view. bushy and opulent greenery surrounded the dead end path i lay. a stone wall, mossy, separates me from the opulence. my clothes are scarce, just a thin silk robe lazily draped over my laying body. barefoot, i let my body feel the soil underneath. it was more than just feeling, i felt as if the oxygen i didnt need anymore was exchanged for the earth beneath my feet. soft, cool like sand. but it doesnt make me feel dirty. the air is foggy and dense, but the wind makes it feel like a glass of water in the desert. perfect. the matronly wind whispers in my ear once more, and i obey. i rise, and feel the oasis’s soul within mine. its a feeling of peace, something not felt where i came from. i cant help but feel as though i must touch everything i pass, as if each rock, twig, and grain of dirt is a lost loved one. my feet move without instruction, as they carry me down the path, unaware of where it leads because of the towering trees. as the path reveals itself, my child-like eyes reveal their youth. i can now see i am on a mountain, high in the clouds among a range of its brothers and sisters. i am on the highest one. the sky, no longer confined to the monotonous blue, has instead broke up with the ocean and created its own color. first orange, like the tiger that has yet to learn how to bite. pink kisses the orange, and i know she chose it just for me. the part that reaches outer space instead turns into a lilac sky, knowing blue just wont do. the mountain’s height is accentuated by the occasional friendly touch of the clouds, coming and going as they please, hugging each peak on their own time. sunlight, the most delicate of rays, glisten the rock walls on either side, revealing hidden flowers intertwined with the fungus. but none of these things compare to what lies at the end of the path, a sight that made me catch my breath in a breathless world. there stands the most eloquent and exquisite cherry blossom tree, wanting to be seen. the wind that had been my guide leaves my side, and breezes through the tree’s baby pink flowers, which are anything but delicate. the wind alerts it that im here. the trunk looks braided, twisting and contorting in the healthiest of ways, showing off that its not scared to be so close to the edge of the mountain. i know she wants me to come closer, and somehow my feet begin to move again. where in another life i would be too worried to ruin its beauty, my hand envelopes its trunk without hesitation, but with the most gentle touch. my eyes close, and in a way i think the world around does too. the power of complete and utter tranquility fill my veins that used to once house blood. all signs of humanity have gone, and at last i am left with a feeling i have been searching for my whole life. as we stand there on that cliff, i know our time is limited. hand in hand, we wait, letting the wind assure us, while we watch the sun perform. altera in vita.
untitled, vol. 2 kels
My pillows still smell like you The crisp scent of a stale dorm room And the smell of morning after vanilla perfume It’s intoxicating when I fall asleep I can’t help but memorize The way your face lights up When you catch me staring Or you watch me do anything Rolling around in bed never felt so good And sitting naked on the bathroom floor Never felt so normal and free With soapy bodies and purple kisses Watching the television reflection in your glasses Was my favorite thing to do Why look at the movie when I could watch the screenplay in your eyes? Love hasn’t been real for me in this context ever before But you give me something that’s so tangible Without the drama, without the messy knots Someone who embraces me for myself and I for you When I miss you I’ll snuggle up In your matching shirt The school of my two favorite persons Also known as how I met my soulmate
Me + The Moon Sarah Melaragno
There is something romantic about the moon being out during the day. Perhaps I only feel this way since I study English Literature perhaps not, but I believe the two are deeply connected. I often catch myself feeling enamored by the sky, the Moon in particular. There is an air of femininity in my days spent outside with her. Watching over one another from above and below. I wonder to myself if she knows how much I love her, as my skin grows saturated with morning dew. And then, head tilted upward I ask aloud if she will meet me here again tomorrow.
what would it take for me to be happy? Kendall
i often think that, if the world turned onto its head and i fell into the sky maybe then id be happy mind over matter, right? because as i fell into the sky surely awaiting oblivion within its immensity, my mind would be over the matter to see the only place i had ever known become the sky maybe i would begin to long for it instead of the moon or maybe id feel free, free from gravity’s grip. no more heaviness, no more heft id have a reason to lose my breath a reason to spin, to doubt if alive im not sure i would even care to know why the earth flipped i would simply be grateful 32
The Good Place
Flowers of Affection Kamakana Pankiwska
pot and kettle Warith Balogun
Their clear obsession with democracy it’s perceived innocence protecting their interests Chastising the governments of other charters pointing fingers of disgust at other leadership Screaming oppression and corruption while they glow with supremacy All while their land is filled with flaws
mother mary Haley Weinstein
Untitled Collage Haley Weinstein
Casey and the Dragon Chapter I: Old Stories Samuel Cameron
The dragons have controlled Telementis for longer than I’ve been around. The only history I learned was from stories my parents told me. Stories from long before I was born. As I got older, I found out these stories were not always true. There are a few things that I know are true. At one point, everyone was fighting each other. Then, they stopped fighting each other to fight one of the dragons. They did not win. They fought hard for a long time. In the end they were betrayed. The betrayer’s name was Ryan McDonn. I like to think the dragon ate him, even though I know it didn’t. I can see it now. In a decadent, smoke filled hall, solid gold pillars support the ceiling high enough for the dragon to lift off whenever it choose. The traitor would come grovelling to the king he sold himself to. He would request an audience with the big lizard and say, “Begging a thousand pardons, Your Excellency, since the resistance has been squashed and the land is back under your domain. May I have some gold for services rendered?” his palms turned upward and out while his chin kissed the ground. The beast would laugh at him in a fiery rumble, “Ryan, Ryan, Ryan my victory was assured without your ‘services rendered’. Can you not see you have failed me? I no longer need you. But still, I should give you what you deserve”. With that he would be picked up by the back of his neck and dropped into the dragon’s terrible jaws. It would enjoy its little snack. Dragons eat people like berries off a bush. But it didn’t happen like that, McDonn had followers who were convinced to worship the dragon. They called themselves the Ryansons. In their eyes the dragon can do no wrong. My mother always told me, “Never make a deal with a dragon. They live a long time and have no qualm with double crossing any being”. There is one story of an old dragon recruiting a village of Orcish warriors to slay one of its rivals. They were called the Orcs of Goresh. As the story goes, they actually managed to kill their target, only to be rewarded with demise by the same dragon they struck a deal with. Everyone says the dragons will rule forever. I used to say we should start a revolt like our ancestors, my neighbors laughed at me. They called me a damned fool. They said, “It’s not so bad here. We lose some sheep from time to time. But here, we’re safe from the orcs and ogres and goblins. Life is good”. The Dragons keep us separate from the Orcs. The Ryansons tell stories about orcs’ savagery. To me, those stories sound like lies.
Everyone tells me fighting would be pointless. “Do you want to see the hills burn? Do you want us all to choke to death in smoke and fire?” I did not. I couldn’t ignore the fact that the dragons took more than they gave. Things weren’t right. My mom called from the kitchen,”Casey! Come on out of your room! Time to eat.” I stepped on the cold dirt floor and shuffled to the next room. The house was hazy from a steaming cauldron. Mom was stirring the laundry. Bread and butter was on the table for me. “How did you sleep dear?” She asked with her gaze fixed on the clothes, paying close attention to make sure none of them got scalded. “I slept fine” I bit into my food. The bread was hard, but the butter made my lips smack. “I dreamt about the Dragon War and the Traitor again,” I said through bites of breakfast. That made her shift her weight a bit but she didn’t look away from her churning water. “Oh? Was the dream the same as it always is?” “No, I also dreamt about the Orcs and the Elder Dragon.” She looked up at me this time. “I remember the first time I told you that old story. You were no taller than my knee. As soon as it ended, you would beg me to tell it again.” She got a little teary. I thought that was odd. “And you would just get so upset when the story ended the same way.” She dabbed the corner of her eye with her fingertip. I kept eating for a minute. “But it really can’t be done, right?” I said, trying to sound casual. “It’s just a story. Dragons can’t be killed. But, y’know, I mean nothing can live forever; and there are way more of us than them...” “Oh be quiet. I won’t have you going on again about some crazy uprising. You’ll get everyone you know killed.” “But the story goes, orcs know how to do it. Or at least they knew how to--” “That is enough!” she said. She had quite a lot of power for a woman her size. It wasn’t worth the argument. I finished my food in silence. “I need you to go to Jacoby’s today. I’m nearly out of treatment for my back.” “Alright. I swear, that old hermit gives you less each time for more money”. “Yes, well, he is the only herbalist we have. Frankly, ‘that old hermit’ is our only choice.” She put a small pouch of coins on the table. It gave a light jingle when it hit the wood. “Go on then. When you get back you can help me put clothes on the line.” 37
Jacoby didn’t live like the rest of us. He was. Real fear was rare to see back home. Life had a house, but no family. Everyone from my in Green Hills is quiet and safe; except for a few village tried to keep their distance from him. Of wolves or the occasional bandit. course, people only kept away as long as they “Jacoby, can I come inside?” He let me were healthy. A few winters ago, Mom slipped by and looked all around before hurrying in. trying to get water from the well. Since then, He locked the door several times. He muttered I’ve been a regular over at Jacoby’s. something under his breath while waving his When I reached the top of the hill on the hands around the frame. I had never seen anyoutskirts of the town I could see his hut nestled one so scared. Let alone him, Jacoby was eccennext to the forest entrance. His place was always tric but was also a brave man. He told me stories outlined with hanging herbs and drying hides. from his time fighting in wars before the dragons The inside had shelves upon shelves of jars filled divided up the world. I knew he had his secrets with odd grasses, colorful powders, and dried though. flowers & herbs. Some jars held floating animals “Take a seat child, I’ll prepare your mother’s and others just their eyes. There were books big- medicine.” He said with his back to me. ger than my head and as thick as a tree in its “Jacoby, why are you acting so strange?” third winter. It always smelled of burning oils I asked. that I could not name. At times the smell was “Bad, bad omens. Needn’t worry yourcloying and other self. This is not times it made my trivial. Not matnose burn. As I got ters for a boy” He closer I didn’t see said gravely. anything hanging off “If it isn’t trivthe roof’s edge. But ial, why should I the chimney steadinot be worried?” ly churned out punI demanded gent smoke. He was back. He stared home, but someat me for a mothing was odd. ment, his deep When I got set eyes blinking to his front door, like he was trying something strange to bring somehappened. Granted, thing into focus. something strange One of his eyes often happens when was foggy like a you speak to Jacoby. frozen lake. This time was differ Finally he ent. The reason besaid, “Have you Reclamation Michaela Pacheco ing, he did not open t ever seen a dragon he door immediately. I knocked thrice, as is his m’boy?” The question threw me off even more general rule, and than his others. still nothing. Jacoby had a way of anticipating “A dragon?” I asked. “In real life? No, his visitors, like he just knew. People in the vil- they don’t have to come to these parts. The lage call him a freak or a warlock. I just figured he was used to the quiet out there. Ryansons just collect for them. Even if a dragon “Jacoby! Jaa-coo-byyy!...You around? It’s flew by here it would just scoop up some poor Casey! Mom needs her medicine,” I shrugged soul for a quick bite. Then burn down some and figured he was out. I would just wait for trees. You know they love reminding us how him to get back. I sat down in front of his door small we are.” and as soon as I did the portal flew open. In His eyes were wide now. His eyes had the same the frame stood old, burly Jacoby. His face was look the town drunk had when he talked about red and he was breathing heavy. His eyes had the coming Orcish invasion or pixie dust and a panic in them like a dog that had just bit its earworms. “What if I told you, I know where the master. big dragons are? What if I told you I know how “Have you been followed?” He said. to slay a dragon?” “Uhh...I don’t think so...” He never asked My heart paused; this was it. I ignored that before. the madness in his face because this was the “Have. You. Been. Followed?” He de- day I dreamt of since I couldn’t wipe my own manded. He was clearly more scared than I nose. My jaw was slack in a moment of disbe38
lief. I tried to ask the hermit to go on. I needed to know what he knew. But all he said was; “The medicine is done. Go back to your mother.” “What do you mean?” My face was on fire. Everything was red “Old man, I need to know!” He leaned in very close after my moment of bravery. “Or else what?” There was no longer fear on his face. Even his blind eye seemed to be piercing my mind. I had stepped out of line. “I can’t threaten you with anything Jacoby. The truth is I need to hope for something. Anything. Even if it’s a long shot. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to fight. Even if I fall, I want to live without fear. Jacoby, how do I slay a dragon?” I was studying his face, as he studied mine. His grey whiskers wrinkled as he pondered what to do next. A minute stretched into an eon, his stone mouth cracked open. “Your mother’s medicine is done-” “YOU OLD-” He cut me off before I could cuss him out. “Shut up boy! Your mother’s medicine is done. Take it to her; be a good son. Come back here tomorrow if you really want to know answers to your question. Be aware, if you begin to walk this path, things will never be the same. You will be unhappy often and will probably die before your time. Think of all these things while you show your mother you love her. If you decide to come back here tomorrow, I will show you all everything I know.” His face was calm and sad. His limbs were relaxed but his back was slouched just a bit. He looked like there was something unseen holding him back from saying more. I put the coins on his table and took the medicine. With a quiet thanks, I went back to my home. By the time I got there, mom had half of the clothes hung up. “There you are Casey. How was Jacoby?” “He was fine.” I lied. “I think he gave you a better price for your treatment this time around.” That was actually true. “Well he better, I pay him enough. And all he can do is sell me mixed herbs for tea. Can’t fix my back t’all.” She said with a huff. “If I get much worse, we won’t be able to get by.” I noticed she was putting her hand on the bad spot on her back before she picked up another garment with her free hand. When did that start? “Why don’t you sit down by the hearth? I’ll finish these clothes” Her face lit up. She was clearly surprised. “Thank you, Casey. I think I’ll do just that.” She walked back to the front door. I could tell how much it was bothering her just to move.
She favored her left leg just a little. I had never noticed it until now. It was late afternoon when I finished the clothes, chopped the wood, and herded the sheep. Mom had started soup for the night. The house radiated smells of broth and fire. I had to tell her I was going to leave. “Jacoby’s was interesting today.” I said casually over my steaming bowl of soup. I slurped some of the green broth. “Oh? I thought you said he was fine?” she retorted. “He was actually acting strange. Normally, I don’t even have to knock but today I had to call him and make a racket.” She laughed at that. “Seems like we’re all getting older. His hearing must be going.” I nodded in agreement. My thoughts were racing. Do I say it flat out? I had made up my mind but how do I say it? “Jacoby told me a story today.” I started. “Yeah? Was it better then my stories?” “It was a lot like your stories actually.” I paused. She didn’t say anything. “He told me about the Orcs and the Elder Dragon. He said it wasn’t just a story. He told me dragons can die. He said dragons can be killed.” She looked up from her bowl. Her voice cracked and her eyes misted up. “Damned adventures, always want to get yourself killed. I’ll tell you the truth Casey, he’s not lying. And neither am I. You want to be like the Orcs of Goresh? I won’t stop you. It hurts me to see you happily march to your death.” She stood up from the table. Leaving her steaming bowl of soup where it sat. We looked at each other for a minute. She wasn’t a big woman. Her bent posture made her look even smaller. “I have to do this. I have to know if the legends are real. I want to come back and share my story. I’m sorry but I’ll never be happy if I don’t try while I can.” “Don’t say you’re sorry. I know you only half mean it.” She wore a sad smile while she fought tears. “I told you about fighting dragons since you were little. I’m proud that you’re brave and crazy enough to try.” “Thank you, Mom. I am sorry that I have to leave. How’re you going to take care of this place? You being sick and all?” She hit the back of my head. Then embraced me in a hug. With her arms around me she said, “Enough of that talk. Everyone dies eventually. Your old mom can take care of herself. Now eat your soup. Who knows the next time you’ll have a hot meal.” We ate dinner quietly. I left for Jacoby’s first thing in the morning. 39
Bucket Swimming Kamakana Pankiwska
Crooked Smiles Franchesca Campos
Maybe it’s because we want to seem ok To disregard the hurt and pain that we feel inside on our emptiest days Maybe it’s because we wish things were different To have the slightest bit of hope hanging from a thread, intertwined with the aching of our hearts Maybe it’s because we aspire for change To long of a time where the universe aligns with our internal clocks and gives us just one last chance. But maybe it’s because we know that chance will never come And the burn marks of our inner misery turn into scars we can never ignore To wear our suffering on our sleeves and let the agony of our existence cloth the rest of us Maybe it’s because in soul-time we know certain thoughts may never come and lie to rest To let our daydreams last till nightfall and whisper our deepest desires to the moon. But when morning comes, the heights of grey turn to yellow, for the sun shall always rise And we awaken ourselves, returning back to the reality of lies We look at our reflection, a clear image of our despair For what we can see may never be of deceit And our crooked smiles tell the real truth between you and me.
Mystery of Perception
To love oneself is a mystery. Am I fulfilled or empty? In admiration of others, do I see myself or just a delusion built from my imagination. From what perspective am I best? His or hers? Mine or yours? How does one become content knowing they will never be on the other end as the eye of the beholder? We all accept not knowing the entire truth, being held onto this whim. This whim of mental security. To understand that letting go of what can not be controlled is taking control. We can not control what others see but can control what it is we see and that is the base of truly loving oneself. Because maybe we may never be in complete control. Maybe we may never be on the other end. Maybe we may never understand the perspective of anyone else’s, but our own. But as the sun rises everyday, that is something that is set in stone. Our mind is a reflection of what we see on the outside. To indulge in oneself is the biggest gesture of passion. We must grasp onto ourselves and hold our spirits tight. To never lose sight of what is in our own control, not others. Because to do it for others is impossible. From one mind to the next, what the world is thinking is simply just a mystery. A mystery of what the truth really is, and what we may never know. 41