Flux Literary Magazine | Spring 2021

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flux poetry & spoken word | @fluxpsw



FL UX spring twenty-twenty one


We here at Flux are all about cultivating





community feels safe and welcome to share their art. That transcends media too. It’s not just in our open mics and slams that we want the work






inclusionary—it stands for the work we publish too. Each and every piece of art and writing published in this literary zine is chosen because it represents and respects the safe space





interflow we aim to preserve. flux. a safe space. a brave space. never a hate space.

CONTENTS 1 ... In Bliss, Idaho at the Miracle Hot Springs ~ Lou Wilkin 3 ... Gender Reveal Party ~ Elliott Carter 5 ...To You ~ Ebenezer 6 ... pantry-heart ~ Emily Mortimer 7 ... fractals ~ Caroline Weschler 9 ... untitled - RJ Selby 10 ... Where Do I Find My Poetry? ~ jayla rose

11 ... Rite ~ Lou Wilkin 13 ... Gaze ~ Rachel Sink 15 ... Mahal Kita ~ Adrian Alora 17... my first aubade ~ Olivia Keenan 18 ... Spring Begins in Charlottesville, Virginia ~ Lou Wilkin 19 ... Winter's Sonnet ~ RJ Selby 20 ... A Distraction ~ Brenna Courtney

21 ... Frances ~ Sophie michaela Scott 26 ... howl ~ RJ Selby 27 ... walking home ~ Olivia Keenan 28 ... Re: Bargaining ~ Camille Digamo 29 ... Community Poem: March 3, 2021 30 ... Community Poem: March 18, 2021 31 ... Community Poem: April 1, 2021 32 ... Community Poem: April 29, 2021

In Bliss, Idaho at the Miracle Hot Springs Lou Wilkin I fixate on her tight chestnut ringlets, curly reminders she is never just my own, dampened into waves saturating her shoulders. The shallow water kisses the bottom of her yellowed pink sundress bouncing pockets of light off her eyes, redirected to me, swaddled in the rocking chair on the weathered porch. Her eyes follow, matching mine, grey, brightened by a spray of green. The sound of her voice interrupts the still air dwelling close to the earth, sending her body to my resting place. I run my fingers through her glossy brown hair, expanding then shrinking back together catching the rhythm in her heart. My gaze meanders to the garden, watermelons wrapping the porch suppling the wooden frame in green pride, my fingers seemed to work magic only on simple things. she follows my stare, as if to catch it before it floats away, skipping to the green fruit then bending before the most fragile and cracking it open with her thumbs, another reminder, scooping out the juicy flesh and bringing the ripened sweet to her lips, quick and secret so as to be watched but unnoticed. once her treasures were gulped, her eyes trace back to mine matching them in new ways.


A desperate wanting would reflect back at me, sending shivers down my wilting spine, demanding questions that ached in the back of my throat. would she always catch her reflection in the corner of her eye, would she slow down the air around her to notice the trembling keys in her ears, would she be compelled to silence them, would her voice carry only as far as the ends of her fingers, would the taste of watermelon turn rotten and bitter in her mouth, would she only know herself the way I did, aimless and fueled by Great Hunger


Gender Reveal Party Elliott Carter In September, 2020, a “gender reveal party” started a forest fire that burned 8,000 acres of land in California.

I. I have news for every parent: You cannot blow up a box to find out your child’s gender. You cannot jelly up the belly and identify through an ultrasound. My parents could not hold my new soft red self up to the light and peek. They could not pass me to my siblings and say here is your new brother. II. I have dreams where I am playing football in dresses. I am too afraid make up will cake on my beard and look hideous. I no longer want my body to be a question. I am tired of solving myself. I am tired of you trying to solve me. I don’t want to transition, but I don’t want to stay. III. A gender reveal party burns down a forest in California. You see pink or blue confetti explode from a gender box. I see a trans child that will one day be too afraid to tell you the truth. Their real gender a coal inside their throat. This poem was always about murder. Every way they kill us. The news stories call the fire an accident.


IV. The first time I wore makeup in public, two men on the metro laughed. I stared at my window reflection, wondered if they would kill me. Can you imagine it— How I spent my gender reveal party planning for my funeral.


To You Ebenezer I see faces in tiny windows Reflecting, mirroring my own face Your own face, or at least what our faces share The world-weariness in your eyes I want to smash these windows To see you, for you to see me, Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen? To be known? We’re candles flickering in the dark A train of lighthouses shining for ourselves And for each other There’s a scarf floating in the wind It’s carrying the threads of your life Still unravelling. There’s a garden, still growing despite the dark There’s a monument, to you, it’s not yet set in stone There you go. And here I go. This isn’t farewell


pantry-heart Emily Mortimer nothing I feel is ever truly digested. instead, I place each troublesome thought in a bright green Tupperware and find a place for it, in my pantry-heart that I continue to stock, no matter how crowded the shelves seem— no matter that a rather enterprising patch of mold has taken over the far-left corner— no matter that on hot days, when the wind is particularly strong, I can catch a whiff of rot.

see, the trick is

to just turn up your nose.



Caroline Weschler ONE here’s the truth- the moon is not real, or at least you and the moon are not real at the same time. what I mean to say is that milk and honey and blood and tears are the same thing, are two pairs of synonymous sisters, are the peach pits that I planted in my palms for you. TWO I am trying to tell you that I am tired. I am tired because in my dreams Jupiter is nothing more than a watercolor painting, has no moons, is just a rhinoceros beetle balancing a plum on its horn. THREE If there is a god then I’m gonna break his heart; If the moon is out tonight I’m going to break every single one of my knuckles on the side of his face. see, there are stars in the sky but there are also teeth and bones and ghosts too and I am so sick of them. FOUR there’s a hurricane in my hands, my pulse is just pomegranates, I still feel like a grenade when you look at me. my arms are full of semicolons, my brain still feels like a ellipse. there’s charcoal under my fingernails, there are diamonds in your hair, when I think about us it is still in present tense. FIVE this, a banana slug. that, the oyster shell that sliced my palm. SIX this quiet chaos that sleeps in your fists, my bloody cheekbones, the bruised knuckles that could be either yours or mine, the fractals that exist in river deltas, in galaxies, in veins and crystals and the romanesco broccoli I bought at the farmers market last week but that is rotting in my fridge because it reminds me too much of you.


SEVEN This, the look in your eyes the first time you told me about fractals. That symphony of stars, that unscripted soliloquy playing out in your pupils. EIGHT this, the dream I have where you tell me you love me but I am not allowed to say it back. this, the truth: me, in love with the same girl I was in love with at fifteen.


untitled RJ Selby

a death like a crinkle in a little soda can tin foil bowl smoking saturdays’ persimmons down your throat mangoes in your veins old soul early morning wings spread your rains a person like a prickly pear every singer in your playlist is dead old soul, nightingale, tell me where the time goes? are we making fun? love? rebel peach fuzz & skin & pit & flesh stopgapped by your mouth archangel fruit farmer no one’s gonna ruin as many songs as you when this ends sfumato star sign you keep singing fruit paintings until it blinks being no one, no body, your heart’s a tree show me your color, what you remember you taught me how to open pomegranates your petrichor, still sifted through the sun’s fingers still holy chainsmoking how love love love like wicker woven hand signals in the firelight o gods I hope this lasts


Where Do I Find My Poetry? jayla rose my poetry is located in memory. in feeling. metaphors used to map out this mess mistakenly labeled as personhood or humanness all the same, my poetry is located in experience. in fantasy. figurative language felt as reality by I and you alone or together all the same, my poetry is located in yesterday. in tomorrow. today only mattering as it is the day I chose to capture the former or latter all the same, my poetry is located in space. in sea. floating along the shores of the galaxy only long enough to flirt with death or life all the same, my poetry is located in me. in you. this prose as much my words as it is your interpretation or imagination all the same.



Lou Wilkin She started her Monday afternoons alone on the greening park bench between Main and Third below the bus stop— Her skirt draped across her knees and cascaded to the ground, bright and dark colors of tangled vines painting the linen fabric, hugging around her crossed legs, displaying something soft and brewing. Perhaps she had a daughter who would hop off the bus from school, wearing a bandana tied quick and messy, whisking back and forth in the breeze as her words spill out in gushing monologues of boys with slicked-back hair and girls with glue in their teeth. Perhaps she lost her mother and this was the stop for the bus that would carry her to a faraway town with a church at its center, filled with familiar smells and immortal days, finding her rest at a diner, always busy with leaving and returning customers, taking something sweet with them each time. Perhaps she was just sitting and still, scattered thoughts mingling with the sinking air, breathing slow and deep as if to catch the stale desire within it, searching eyes belonging to bystanders wearing different colors on their skin 11

to quietly remind herself she was not actually alone.


Gaze Rachel Sink At this hour the city looks more like an ocean: Streetlights reflect their pastel partners, stars embroidered above, cars and cloaks and waves clash against the buildings. All it takes is one small shift in the windjust barely cold enough to dust blush on the constellations across your noseand it’s a picture, the kind of moment sewn into a teenager’s favorite movie, burned into every adult’s memory. On the outskirts we sit with everything in the world to see and still my back is turned to the scenery- Eyes wide watching yours because in this moment in my eyes its all for you, all of my world is all of you. Your weathered denim, calloused cobalt soul wrapped in Thick knit sweaters sleeves pulled to your fingertips arms heavy around shoulders and waists belted in and wound like you really believe we could be one if only your chest could weigh heavy enough on my heart, and it does. I want you to stain my mind with the smell of burnt candles and campfires, intoxicate me on your laugh, on the taste of strawberries and citrus and wine and iced coffee with 3 spoons of sugar just how I know you like it. Voice warm like mittens and rusty like sun’s first break through the morning trees, eyes sparkle soft like vintage streetlights peeking their yellow gaze through the twilight fog, My world is everything my eyes can bear to drink before blinking away tears at the overflow of care I have for you right now. How I could count the ways 13

you astound me for as many hours as there are drops in the ocean and still never quite be satisfied but for now I suppose I’ll have to settle for counting the soft shifting strands that graze your collarbone. Tracing the speckles on the back of your hand heavy in mine. Chasing the taste of vanilla chapstick to the very corner of your lips, and the faint cloud of clean cotton that hangs all around you in the mornings. I’ll have to settle for memorizing the way you catch the consonants in my name and only hope I’ll have the pleasure of doing it all over again tomorrow.


Mahal Kita Adrian Alora I know you don’t reciprocate my feelings Is it because you haven’t traversed that part of desire in your soul We’re lonely sitting side by side together Million thoughts run through my mind that I’d Be the half to complete your whole Let’s go on an adventure Don’t you dare succumb to the pressure Of what you think you have to do I would never dare to even hurt you We could find happiness together As long as you’re comfortable with me If you are afraid of roller coasters You can hop off this once it’s over Open your eyes and conquer these heights Just know you’re safe with me If you think the skies will try to hurt you Hold my hand and fly and see our future Then you’ll see the skies are safe with me Cause I could be yours forever If you envelop your arms around my heart And let the air of joy guide us Long as you’re open to follow the stars Darling it’s me and you, you and I Dancing underneath moonlight Always, mahal kita Lingering on the lost potential Now you’re far away you’ll never get to Feel the love, you would have received There was barely any communication You were my friend but you were so distant Never knew how I would’ve given more I knew you were afraid of roller coasters But did you even try to give it a chance to 15

Conquer these heights and open your eyes And see it’s safe with me Did you think these skies were gonna hurt you ‘Cause you flew without me and you never Saw just how easy things could be with me Still I could be yours forever If you envelop your arms around my heart And let the air of joy guide us Long as you’re open to follow the stars Darling it’s me and you, you and I Dancing underneath moonlight Always, mahal kita And it kills me to say That I love you this way Even though you don’t care for me And I know you won’t hear But I want to make clear That I’d fervently love your all Cause I could be yours forever If you envelop your arms around my heart And let the air of joy guide us Long as you’re open to follow the stars Darling it’s me and you, you and I Dancing underneath moonlight Always, mahal kita


my first aubade Olivia Keenan I grind my teeth during the night. my mother always says my father does the same thing. I have never known waking up to someone, or the sound of another’s mouth during sleep. but you sigh in yours. and bliss be ever fleeting, we argue about the blinds. (my mother says she keeps a tiny fan atop the bedside table, and my father uses extra blankets.) my animated aubades do not convince you to keep open windows. we twist the blinds halfway. and your hands are warm when you touch the space between my shoulder blades first thing in the morning. it is an unspoken routine, perhaps. (my mother says my grandfather eats corn flakes every morning in a yellow armchair, while my grandmother watches backyard birds peruse orange slices.) if there is one thing I have learned from the love before me, it is to pray for the new day and rejoice in its arrival. as for this sunrise: the songbirds know it first. our compromise blinds second. us, third. how relaxed the jaw, how shy the light and the soft edges of now-I-lay-me prayers answered. we are sunk in slivers of sun and shoulder blades and pale yellow celebration. slow blinking, the first aubade is gentle, golden, and after all this time, I know what it is my mother was saying. -Olivia


Spring Begins in Charlottesville, Virginia Lou Wilkin

with glasses of wine over video chat. We share long distance sips and light conversation, censored through a pixelated canvas like quick sand dissolving the clear connection between us. You’re frozen again. Our eyes meet but you’re looking. I forgot to turn it back on, so you ask. I don’t know. I have trouble finding the words. Your shoulders are clothed by a hint of concern that matches the unmistakable veneer in your eyes. You tell me you like how I’m transparent—tell me something I can taste— and find pleasure in my breath, starting to soften and fade in your voice I should probably go. Abrupt and alone, I sit for a while, waiting for a residual feeling to wash over, something to dilute the sour taste in my mouth. I grab the pale clementine sitting on the edge of my desk, peel back the skin, and stuff the flesh and juice down my throat without question, quick and brutal and whole, to taste the bittersweet complete that always seemed so soft and tasty, but stung deep in my jaw.


Winter’s Sonnet RJ Selby What kind of love is six pomegranate seeds, anyway? I had half a mind, half a love, made of spring, you were cold. I prefer the version of us where I chose this shade, chose you: a man of gold, the freezing ends of things. It can be romantic, can’t it? Vernal made carnal in the underworld— a love story, I guess. Truly though, curse you: a grown man stealing things— my self, my sun, my mother’s scraps of hope, but they say six months yours. I prefer the version where I chose this, for the story it tells: us stealing away, romance painted in my greens & your gold, but the whole, six months hers, empty nest blooming Winter, our dreary season, betrays whatever I tell us of our character, that we are a tragedy of sorts. Tragedy’s truer in the scraps of my origin, without you, of my name, Persephone— bringer of deaths, bringer of spring—made by those before you, an archetype imposed for you. I stay, halfway, unsteady, in what’s already been rewritten.


A Distraction Brenna Courtney It’s a bad way of going about it. The color slides. One after another, or one over another, to create new shades. You are so thick with them. Organize sometime. Prioritize. The old library won’t last. You crouch in an odd numbered section. You have only just begun to tease apart the spines. It’s no wonder there’s flooding. And you won’t be able to name those creatures skulking in the green-blue dark. They won’t even come for you. Really, it requires a kind of mastery, to open and close so many drawers. It requires balance. Or the whole thing will tip. And if one house is empty? Move on. And if that hound is not where you left it? Move on, too. Patience for what will come trundling back. A hook and something red for what will not.


Frances Sophie michaela Scott As Frances walked back from the grocery store, she passed the Baptist church on the last stretch of quiet road before her house. Behind the church, the graveyard arched up and down a hill, and she watched as a family marched behind the hill out of sight, and from the horizon rose only the back of the truck that carried the burial vault. The burial vault–the mechanism used for lowering coffins into the earth–was a simple metal framework shaped like the outlines of a house; two pentagons and a line connecting them at the top. Inside the little house, a coffin. A cleared cornfield separated the church from her house, and Queen Anne’s lace and wild orange lilies grew from the detritus of dry cornhusks. Shifting a brown paper bag to her other hip, she unlocked her front door then set the bag on top of a stack of cardboard boxes inside. Poppy waddled down the hallway. The only surviving of her three dachshunds, Poppy had grown increasingly plump in her old age so that her chest brushed across the threshold of every door she passed through. The dog walked past Frances and through the open door, returning after a slow trip to the front yard. In the kitchen, Frances gulped down a glass of water with her morning pills. She took a deep breath. The room smelled like cardboard; she hadn’t lived there long enough for it to smell familiar, like her detergent or Diorella perfume, which over time had seeped into the walls of her last apartment. Frances hadn’t wanted to leave that last apartment (which was also her first apartment, too) for almost fifty years. Her neighbors had been a mix of other seniors–whom she had practically grown up with–also too stubborn to give up their rent-controlled apartments, and young, wealthy families who paid more each month than Frances ever would have. Before the sickness began–both her condition and the outbreak–the building had rarely had an empty unit, but by now many people were emigrating from New York. Unlike her new home, there wasn’t a white wall in Frances’s old apartment. In her small, dark blue kitchen, even the ceiling had been painted, and in the living room the salmon paint spread from the walls and onto the filled bookshelves. Opposite the shelves, another salmon wall had been hung with a single painting. She slept in the aubergine room near the front door, in a single twin bed that faced a large window, which when Frances was younger used to carry in the sound of children playing at the Hebrew school down below. A few years ago, Frances would have never moved out of that apartment, but something in her had changed. One morning one September, as Frances read each frantic headline in the newspaper from bed, there was a sudden blaring wailing from the hallway–the building fire alarm–then Poppy began to howl along, too. Frances threw back the covers, pulling a mask from her bedside table and looping it around her ears. She could see the light flashing under the door and then somebody was banging against it. “Fran!” A friend’s voice called. “You in there?” “I’m coming,” Frances responded as she retrieved the painting from its nail on the orange wall and hoisted the lumpy dog into her arms. In the hallway, she met her neighbor, who had a small metal safe in the crook of her arm and a mask on her face too. The normally dark hallway, and the full trash bags piled up against its walls, were briefly illuminated by each flash of the fire alarm. Single file, and six feet apart, Frances and her neighbor hurried down the stairs, which they hadn’t taken since before 21

the elevator was fixed. Outside they joined their other neighbors at the foot of the building, each family standing at a distance from the other. A few people grasped at squirming, clawing cats, while Poppy rested in Frances’s left arm, and continued howling, right into her ear. In her right arm, Frances cradled the painting, trying not to tear the delicate, old paper on the back of its frame. The paper was brown with time and carried a partly legible description of itself: “Viareggio, Italy 1897.” Which was, almost, all Frances knew about the painting for a fact. Once Poppy stopped howling, Frances heard the alarm was shut off. As the residents waited for the firemen to come out of the building, from which no fire actually bursted, a pair of eyes across the street noticed Frances’s painting. The eyes peered out above a mask fashioned from a bandana, and saw the portrait, done in oil paint, of a young woman in profile. The woman looked straight ahead, away from the artist, and she was dressed in a blue smock with a red handkerchief tied around her head and under her chin. She had a tuft of brown curls across her forehead, peeking out from under the handkerchief. The background of the painting was darker brown, somber. Perhaps if the man could’ve gotten close enough, after the firemen left and Frances turned to retreat into the building, he would’ve been able to see the date on the back of the painting, and known for sure if it was the painting he had seen long ago, in a photograph. ⥇ A few nights later, a metal clicking stirred Frances from her dreams. Although she was hardly awake, she recognized the familiar sound as her front door knob being tried, and then out of the darkness of the living room, the dog began to growl. As she felt in the dark for her robe, she saw the red glow of the alarm clock–it was 3:00 a.m., too early for anyone to be picking up the trash, or delivering the newspapers. She hurried to her front door to peer through its spyglass at whoever was outside, but through the glass there was only darkness. The door handle shook in its socket once more before the door swung suddenly partly open but then Frances was throwing her large body against it, pushing back at the intruder and closing it again. “Hey!” She yelled. She didn’t know what else to say. “Hey!” She pushed against the door with her back and used the walls of the narrow hallway to anchor herself with her feet and hands. The pushing from the other side stopped and Frances had a chance to slip the chain lock in its place at the top of the door. She heard footsteps run down the hallway and the door to the stairwell close. It was quiet again, until Frances became aware of her heavy breathing, her heart thumping with adrenaline. Leaning against the door, Frances was afraid, but also pleasantly aware of her own self-sufficiency, of her own strength. Although she wouldn’t call the police, she wondered who had tried to get into her apartment. ⥇ Long ago, when Frances’s grandfather left his family for the final time, her grandmother, Mary-Kate, kept the painting as part of her divorce settlement. Although she didn’t care how much the painting was worth, she knew James did. Over the years since the divorce, he’d contacted her about it more than once, arguing that since he had found the painting, among the other antiques in his


uncle’s loft, it should belong to him. Yet he couldn’t take the disagreement to court (how would he explain his uncle’s “import” business?), so the painting remained with Mary-Kate until her death, when Frances’s mother inherited it. Frances didn’t know for sure who the woman in the painting was, although she liked Mary-Kate’s stories about a mafioso’s daughter. It had occurred to her to take the painting to an antiques dealer or art historian, someone who could tell her the true history of the piece, but she never did. For one, she wasn’t sure if the painting really, legally, belonged to her family, so Frances had long feared it would be taken away from her if the right person learned she had it. Another reason was, she had realized that the painting was precious to her because of its history in her family, with people she loved, not because of anything a specialist could tell her about it. And, because Frances had come to believe there was something just as valuable about what was confusing and unknowable. During its three generations in her family, the painting had become something of an artifact to Frances. Having never been married herself (perhaps learning from Mary-Kate’s mistake), her material possessions were a comfort to her in her solitary older age, especially the possessions that connected her to those who had died. For years, Frances had pondered what her legacy would be after her death, if she would live on through her possessions the way her grandmother and mother lived on. Yet, she didn’t have any children, or any close family for that matter, who she imagined would one day pick through her things; to Frances it was as if there was nobody left who cared if she lived or died. Although usually content with her solitude, sometimes the solitude turned into loneliness again. Back when she had first become really confined to her apartment, at the start of everything, she’d had to figure out other ways to feel less lonely. When the younger Frances first got the car, she’d drive it around the city, with her windows down and the radio playing just loud enough that someone might pay attention to the woman sliding up to the stoplight, pulling her hair into a ponytail while balancing a cigarette between her lips, and then the light is green and she drives away from you and she’s gone forever, a leaf in the wind. As she grew older, Frances would instead sit by the window in her bedroom that faced the street, offering herself to be viewed, like the Pope. She offered herself passively; she didn’t imagine herself as a sexual object in these situations, but more like a character in a book. In her mind, there was always somebody watching her, describing her in the unfortunate way a male author sometimes describes a female character. A week after the fire alarm, a man had looked up at Frances’s window, and probably for the first time, somebody was thrilled to see her sitting there. After seeing her with the painting in the street that day, he had waited patiently, hoping, for the same woman’s face to appear at one of the windows of the apartment building, and when finally it did, he noted how many floors up and how many windows over he saw her face, framed by the window pane like a painting, her eyes fixed on something outside of his view. ⥇ The new house–small, white–sat only a short distance from the road. Even though it meant lots of insects finding their way inside, Frances had made a habit of leaving the back door open when she was home, so Poppy was able to come in and out as she pleased. The dachshund hadn’t had this kind of freedom before, and while Frances now retreated from her neighbors, it seemed that Poppy


had embraced the different neighborhood dogs as new companions. On hot days, Poppy liked laying on her back atop the cracked concrete in front of the house. She exposed her belly to the sun, which was now almost hairless from the past few years of rubbing against the old rug in the living room, and it had now turned pink, too, from the sunburn. Similarly, Frances had found a small beach, tucked beneath the south side of the big bridge, where she liked to lay in the sun herself, sitting on a striped plastic chair, her stomach bulging into three loose rolls between her bathing suit top and bottoms. One grey day on the beach, Frances was walking along the water’s edge when she noticed a dark shape up by the dune grass, and as she got closer, she could make out the smooth curves of two horseshoe crabs, one larger and one smaller, with long, serrated tails trailing behind. Neither crab moved when she bent over them, and using a stick, she poked at the larger of the creatures, and when it still didn’t move, lifted its shell, and from within the damp cave of the carcass spilled masses of sandy, writhing black beetles. The second crab was, of course, also dead, although Frances didn’t check. The two crabs had probably lived together, she figured, since they had died together. And now, their two bodies would feed hundreds of little mouths, something dead still teeming with life. But who would be witness to Frances’s final years, who would be fed by her death? And yet, over the past year, she had felt like vultures had come to pick at her bones before she was even dead. First, one night Frances decided to go for a late-night drive; it had been weeks since she had left the apartment, and she needed to be seen a little. She put on a swipe of pink lipstick before taking the elevator down to the garage level. Very few of the building’s residents owned a car, so when the elevator doors opened, she saw immediately that her car wasn’t in its parking spot, or any other parking spot in the garage. The shock of the missing car was like looking in the mirror and seeing that you’d lost a tooth, even though you hadn’t felt any pain. Then, only a month later, the original intruder of course returned to her apartment for a second time, at last taking Frances’s precious painting with him (although nothing else). By the time Frances moved out into the countryside, it hadn’t been such a big adjustment from basically a lifetime in her city apartment, because it felt like she had already been stripped of something; she didn’t miss her old car nearly as much as the painting, but the bizarre losses of both at the same time forced Frances to realize that the part of her life she was holding onto was over. Frances also realized that just as she didn’t have to be angry that most of her life was in the past, she didn’t have to be sad that her life was ending differently than she expected either. For as much as she had feared her own mortality as a younger person, she had hoped and imagined that her death would be like her mother’s–which Frances had remembered, oddly as a perfect death, if one had to die. On her deathbed, her mother, Eudora, or Dora, was like a bride being tended to by her maidens. Although her chest rattled with slow, shallow breaths, and her eyes had already settled back into their sockets, and she couldn’t speak, Dora was nestled in her own soft bed at home, with more than ten people in the room, everyone trying to hold onto her at once–a hand on an ankle here, a hand cradling her head up there, and so on. In the room was her twin sister, her nurse, her cousins, her neighbors, and her daughter. Dora’s youngest brother was screeching down the driveway in his car the first time she died, but suddenly she took another breath when he burst through the front door a minute later, and then another, before finally ceasing to breathe once again, finally dead. Everybody remained in the room with her body for hours afterwards, talking, drinking. Eventually the funeral


home came to retrieve Dora, and when Frances bent over her mother to say goodbye, she was temporarily sobered by the coldness and stillness of the forehead she kissed. The closer Frances came to the end of her own life, the clearer it became she wouldn’t die like her mother, but she had decided to embrace this lonely death, as a kind of quiet rebellion, against the idea that she needed attention or validation from others to give her life meaning. Frances no longer needed to sit by the window, and if she left the house, it was because she had something to buy or somewhere to go, not because she cared if anybody saw her going, and not that there were many people to see her in this new town anyways. Since moving from the city, Frances had only exchanged names with the daughter of the dead man whose house she bought. She was a stranger again, in a strange town. The first time she had a seizure she thought she was dying. When Frances regained consciousness, she was still laying in her bed, the almost empty white walls all around her, the only thing hanging on them a mirror to her left. Waking there, she saw her own face in the mirror, enclosed by its silver frame. And then she thought of her mother’s painting. Or whoever’s painting it was now– that quiet figure returning early one morning through Frances’s unlocked front door at the apartment, when the sky outside was still dark. She heard him come in, though, and Poppy, too, but when the animal started towards her bedroom door with a low bark, Frances called her, “Come back to bed with mommy,” she said. “Let them leave.” ⥇

Author’s Note “Frances” was previously published in the University of Virginia zine, Scratch, in their Fall 2020 “Impulse” issue. My story was still in development at the time (maybe that fits the issue’s theme that I submitted it unfinished), so the story I present today is “Frances” in her complete form, with a different, finished ending. Sophie michaela Scott May 2, 2021


howl RJ Selby after florence welch i would have been a pair of nestled wolves around your waist. under the moonlight, apart, i can only make out your eyes & your skin: unfocused & pearlescent, it breaks our night apart when you close those years of light made hazy by myopia, & the distance between is still too blind, so you slice away the air between us, who needs to breathe anyway? or anyone else but another, so hunt me. with your claws, in those hands, i want to be fabric, to entangle in mercury rivers singing us through splitting clay splitting words, to erase us anew, just be tender, be lost for some eternity, just keep what it meant to just be – we’ve been dancing so long with flooded eyes on raw feet so off my tissues, scrape me, off sinew off bone, until i am smooth stone, river-run & we are blood-spun, whirlpool tumbling, a galaxy & when my pupils wane, wax me, eclipse me, phase me, clean off, tear out how anyone else’s currents or hands felt & swim in our selves, beat drum lungs with me, erode the stars with specks of spilt quicksilver, wring sweet curses into my spirit & i’ll fill yours with warmth until our heart is a part of this river bed is more divine than the lunar crescendo above is above & it’s only to each other’s eyes we howl


walking home Olivia Keenan a woman, against the night, but before ten, when people are still out. besides, someone would care enough to stop their car, she hopes, she wants, to douse the streets in gasoline, empty alleyways filled with flames, maybe then she could grasp the night, ablaze with light, hold it in her hand like a man does, instead, she bites the corner of her lip just enough to hurt, kind of salty, her skin, so much skin licked by the night wind, so he waits, and watches, meanders nearby, she calls a fake friend since no one picks up this time, there is one block left, the sidewalk so silent, her phone pressed against a listening ear, but it is so quiet, she strains to hear past cricket calls to his breath runs from the dogwood tree to her door she fumbles with her keys, it is 10:01, clock ticking, tapping of his quickened step, at last she unlocks the door, locks the door, peers through peepholes. very curious, the street is so dark, and so empty, now she wonders what it is she saw, what she heard, for there is no one outside. extra nerves or reality? who has time to check? who has time to tell? yesterday he was real, and tomorrow too, the night watches zealously, waits for a guard down, the walk home is a careful game. it is 10:02.


Re: Bargaining From: Camille Digamo To: TA Subject: Re: Bargaining

3/23/2021 2:47 PM

Hi, Sorry for asking this again! sorry sorry I’m asking again! I’m asking with such a big smile, smiling, and, teeth even! smiley! Hi :D happy! Non-threatening! Bargaining! Don’t worry – you’re the house! You’re the chips, you’re the dip, cool man. Cool, cool really cool man! Youuu listen, right? hahaha So listen, there is just something that really excites me about doing this project on Filipino food. Think of the stakeholders! UVA – big bold letters – next to: Diversity? Equity? Inclusion? Such a buzz! Have you seen this shit? Support of the Asian American community is trendy now. more. than. ever! It’s that type of excitement like in Ratatouille when Anton Ego takes his first bite of Remy’s dish and the flashback to his youth happens – that type of excitement. I can see these cultural signifiers of the Philippines together with this vibrant recipe of Pan de Ube all collaged together like picking up pieces of the diaspora when I envision this graphic. That’s not something I can have with the Julia Child recipes. Don’t get me wrong – I was called “egg girl” in high school for my love of egg and and and I’ve taken 7 years of French, but yanno how it is. I would never dare disrespect eggs or France or the hierarchy or my chips! No nooo no no this isn’t contempt for “the West” whaaaat? I’m so grateful for what capitalism has done for me and my culture! Now I can bring it here, to this table, and once our food spreads everywhere in this country, that’s basically colonization right? Revenge! Dessert best served cold haha! I know I don’t necessarily have to convince you per se, but fight for me I thought while I’m here I should make my pitch :)))) Anyways, thanks for reading! I also feel like I’m enjoying my concept for the Scrambled Eggs too though! It just needs some time. Thank you for your time, Camille 28

Community Poem: March 3, 2021 Flux I awoke at night and much I marveled the stars above Futures & pasts interwoven like the colors of a palette I stretch careful fingers towards it, ink-stained and still hoping. Maybe one day I’ll find my favorite pen again And write stories about my childhood home The land my ancestors walked before me for generations Footsteps in footprints, a million miles of history in feet The ying to my yang… And the paper to my fire; crinkling, shrinking, shriveling. I scoop the hard little coal that’s left and pocket it in the yard

What is a Community Poem? Community poems are a Flux tradition that embody our commitment to creative exchange and engaging community building. The poem starts off with a single line and is passed from person to person, with each individual adding their own line of poetry. The key is, the writer only sees the singular line preceding their own, with no knowledge of the other lines that came before it. Once everyone has written their line, the entire poem is read aloud. No matter what twists and turns the poem takes, we always finish knowing we’ve created something amazing or funny or downright brilliant together. In the last year, creating these poems over Zoom has been not only a delight but a constant reminder that, no matter where we find ourselves, our Flux family – with all its creative flair and incredulous talent – is always here. We thank you for helping us keep this tradition alive, and we cannot wait until we’re all back together, in person, to celebrate how fabulous this family is.


Community Poem: March 18, 2021 Flux i have never met a dog that doesn’t scare me The rain doesn’t know about us Where we step, the damp lifts back into vapor sticky air absorbed by our sweaty palm Evaporating what was left behind I was vapor before there was sky FUCK TRANSPHOBIA and UVA. I wish I felt celebrated by my own school how much more can you commoditize and compartmentalize me? How many times would I let you?


Community Poem: April 1, 2021 Flux

In a kingdom full of waterworks The dam is held together by crystallized tears Icy cold and A mind filled with mold Holding onto memories that I’ve already sold That’s a lie. Money shouldn’t be made from my mind. Money should be licked off your blood-soaked hands Tastes like blood diamonds but in this mine what is mine Is everything!


Community Poem: April 29, 2021 Flux let tomorrow splinter into a million fragments so we can watch the pulp like pollen on the street the bumblebees make me sneeze the yellow-black fuzzies make me dizzy i spin i spin until i lose my center this nuked up centrifuge is primed to explode the core feels some teetering, alien thing and at last it pitches forward, the canoe’s flipped — now all of my camping shit is floating down the river even the bonfire is catching mold dowse it all with yesterday’s stale drinking water & then burp it up, baby! musical and jawbreaking! let that shit flow, let that shit go! you were born to write like this! to say this is destiny would be a mistake