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FORTNIGHT

LITERARY PRESS

VIII.i


CONTENTS 2 3 4 6 7 8 10 11 12 14 16 18 19 Cover Image 21 Editors Copy Editors Design Editor Social Media Communications Editorial Staff

Purple Sky Red Building an Identity Cosmogyral The Home You Provide How Was Your Trip? Hook, Line, and Sinker white noise on a friday evening After Life A Summer’s Habitat Red Pieces The Light Within The Light Within Corvid

Jyotsna Wase Jyotsna Wase Nick LaCerva Kate Bishop Laura Dzubay Laura Dzubay Gavin Gao Stephanie Choi Gavin Gao Victoria Bortfeld Kate Bishop Priya Patel Jyotsna Wase Jyotsna Wase Kelly Sprouse

Danielle Colburn, Sarah Dougherty Daniel Evans, Meghan Brody, Skylar Chen Giuliana Eggleston Derek Gan Ashley Zhang Josh Flink, Mia Licciardi, Michelle Hoban, Natalie Steers, Phy Tran, Shannon Maag, Zoya Gurm

Brought to you by the Undergraduate English Association

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The Purple Sky Jyotsna Wase

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Red Jyotsna Wase

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Building an Identity Nick LaCerva [Two people dressed as blue skyscrapers are standing next to each other. They’re just sitting there and looking around a little.] Skyscraper 1: So… how’s it going Bill? Skyscraper 2: Really Bob? That’s how you’re gonna start this day? How’s it going? S1: I don’t know man… I guess I just wanted to see how you’re doing. S2: Every day with you man, how’s it going? What’s the weather like on your side of the block? Seen any cool birds lately? Well if you really wanna know I’ll tell you. Mark in accounting just had diarrhea in the third floor restroom, Debra just spilled coffee all over the newly furnished lounge, and two RadioShack employees are banging in the storage room. Happy you asked? [Skyscraper 1 sniffles and starts to cry.] S2: Aww jeez man don’t cry… Don’t be such a… [sigh] Okay what’s going on with you Bob? S1: Well… They just set up a new Starbucks in me, they fixed the elevator, and they’re installing some new wicked cool gargoyles on my shoulders. S2: See Bob, this is why I hate talking to you. You’re supposed to complain about the bad stuff happening to you, not talk about the good stuff. It’s just the way life works. S1: Well why do you think that? Why does everything have to be so negative? S2: Have you not been listening to the people inside you? Just yesterday, I heard three different people in a law firm say that they wanted to kill themselves, but hey, I don’t see anyone hopping out of my windows. Complaining about your problems is the best way to solve them. If you talk about butterflies and rainbows all the time you’re not gonna be ready for when life really plows you. S1: So what you’re saying is that I should become a pessimist if I want to be happier? S2: Precisely what I’m saying. S1: Well, there are some annoying kids who run through my revolving doors all the time. S2: Okay, that’s a good start, but give me more. Show me some real anger.

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S1: Well, about fifty birds crapped on my roof yesterday, and that pissed me off pretty badly. S2: Good, that’s good! S1: And also, it’s just that sometimes I get so fed up with this city! It’s like I just want to pack up and move to Oklahoma or someplace like that. S2: Uh… what? Bob, is that really how you feel? You want to be a country skyscraper? S1: Yeah, I just dream about ripping my beams straight out of the ground and marching to freedom! S2: But Bob, I don’t think you can do that. I mean, like, I don’t think you can physically do that. S1: Oh yeah? Just watch me! [Bob rips himself out of the ground and leaves. Bob’s spot is replaced by a pink building that is then connected to the Bill via a catwalk. Bill smiles and starts flirting with the new building.]

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Cosmogyral Kate Bishop We are infinitely small when placed beside Andromeda. In fact, she herself is merely dust: a collection of lost souls stuck dazzled by her radiance. Something smaller still is in the making of a new Andromeda, entire constellations thrumming with the purpose of igniting another galaxy into being. Watch, with your aurora eyes, the infrared of my heart in its cage and the ultraviolet way you string your words into nebulae. I am dust in your wake. Quintessential in nature, we breathe. Most of us is unseen, unheard, unspoken, but not unreal. We are star stuff. Walk with Andromeda, follow Sagittarius. You are cosmogyral. With the earth on your tongue and comets in your lungs, it’s as if the universe shrinks at your feet.

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The Home You Provide Laura Dzubay I don’t love you, I just love your house. You make me want to spit, but your curtains are just so fabric-thin, they catch the light so well before the glass window-panes spotted with years, potted plants twisting in the windowsills. I don’t love you. I love the dogs you’ve adopted, well-fed and tall-grown; they love the knotted carpets and you, although they probably deserve better. That time I was house-sitting and it thunder-stormed: toothy lightning, fists of thunder, I held these same pillows close to my chest, on the couch, memorizing their fullness. Make no mistake, I love the violin-dark of your wooden floors, the flipping door of your mailbox and the gravel in your drive. Print me a key or something, so I can come here when you’re out. It makes such a nice picture, it really does.

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How Was Your Trip? Laura Dzubay To my mother There are so many things I wish to ask you– the dandelions you left near the sink, the weird jiggly thing you do to the keys when the car doesn’t start (which is so often). I want to ask you the sound of the door when you come home, and the scraping of dog’s claws against wood that always follows. The precise way my nose pokes into your bony shoulder. Your umbrella eyes. Even over the phone, your voice squats next to me and smiles, eyebrows arched in sympathy, your thin fingers tangle through my hair. As a child I used to huddle on the bathroom floor in the cavern of a towel, feet wet, lotion waiting on the counter for my dry skin, and I’d scream, hating you a little as your nails broke through my knots. I want to ask you what were all the things we said, you to me and I to you, every second of my childhood, the things they didn’t catch on camera. What were we like back then? What were you like? You must remember. Now that I’ve watched other children a while—they demand

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so much, they replace me with things they want. I am towels, and cookies, and dinner, and hair. Break up their fights, love them, scare them. You were twenty-six when you had me, your eldest– and what before that? I’ve seen you in the photographs. Tell me your long hair (which you cut short one year and it looked the way I would want my hair to look if I cut it short), your dark eyes, hard and earnest, your teeth so straight even though you never had braces, your skin, clear, flawless, because you never picked your bug bites when you were a kid, just like you told me not to the whole time I was growing up, and I never listened. You wear turtlenecks and baggy sweaters, nineties clothes. In some photos you’re pregnant. In one you’re sweaty and silver, flushed all around with banners checked purple and white– you’ve just finished a marathon– you’re smiling the way happy people smile at prom, young, finish line fluttering above you, and in front of you I’m sitting a few years old in the stroller you’re pushing, and I’m smiling too, as if I were the one doing the hard work the whole time.

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Hook, Line, and Sinker Gavin Gao and the distance between the mayfly and the starlight. The Portuguese man of war stranded on a public beach. The haste in which nine horses travel across the frozen heartland. The brick road. The blind archer, and his hundred arrows in a porcupine. The irony of gods and ivory statues. And the ship. The ship carrying my father shrieks gray smoke. My father the wise old duke duped by hearsay and booze now a fool in his ragged robe leans against the railing, while somewhere the vultures are circling his ramshackle castle, and in our ancestral graveyard a monarch butterfly, believing it has found paradise, flies ahead into a poisoned web.

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white noise on a friday evening Stephanie Choi the tv plays reruns of yesterday’s big news: flash! bang! some dirty americans have killed two korean girls! and then their bodies, contorted like ballerinas, skirts hoisted high and splayed like tutus. the reporter is in a plain dress and her right nipple shows through the silk because it’s sweltering in seoul. lips deeply red, face flushed. flash! back to the ballerinas. it was a birthday party, says the tv, and two american soldiers named nino and walker marched back to the american embassy arms bare while korean blood seeped deeply into the soil. this was yesterday, says the biggest news, and then the tv plays an american yogurt commercial. in the future, several other americans will be strangled and people will sing about lawless cowboys.

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After Life Gavin Gao Call me pain are the first words I speak to the astonishing silence that rocks me away from the shore of your womb. All night, your cry has painted storms, filled up the night watchman’s body and made the hills dance like sacks of horse bones. Tumultuous, I wrap my arms around your soil like a mandrake root. Not even the warmblood galloping out of the steel-blue sea can retrieve me fast enough for the light in you to heal. Unable to console you, I crown you with a garland made of mermaid hair and abalone. Mother, in the last life I sailed into your cove bearing knives. In this one, I swear

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not to harm you any more. The morning waves hurl me upon the white sand. I’ll dock my boat at your harbor and lie down, quiet as a lamb, beneath the lighthouse.

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A Summer’s Habitat Victoria Bortfeld Two tables: one large, circular and wooden on the right, surrounded by chair petals; the kind you’d find in a classroom The other, to the left, small, plastic and picnic, indented by too big behinds that thought it was a good idea, at first In the left corner, an ominous kitchen set, stuffed with forks, spoons, pizza, fruit, donuts, ice cream, bread: plastic Three sets of over-spilling shelves, two bins of rainbow Legos, one overwhelming wicker basket of a tumultuous train tracks Smiling monkeys, giraffes, elephants, and frogs surrounding, enclosing, plastered happiness from their plastered bodies A mottled blotch on the edge of the smoke-gray carpet, we aren’t sure what it is but we avoid it like yellow snow A toy-strewn ground, like the remnants of a war scene, bits and pieces here and there—everywhere Angelina Ballerina mouse missing one leg John Cena action figure race cars police cars miniature cars fire engines monster trucks tractors—all without batteries A spillage of the Jurassic and Cretacious periods: T-rex, stegosaurus, velociraptors, brachiosaurus, a fire-backed dinosaur creature that definitely didn’t exist A leap-frog contraption that looks like it’s been through hell A baby doll with only one eye—eek A misplaced Wii pad A striped sock A hat

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And there‌ I have no idea what that is.

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Red Kate Bishop This morning I thought I would write about you. I was going to tell you so, but I am so torn. I haven’t felt this good in my entire life: all whirlwind morning air clouding from my lips and into the trees. But I’ve started painting red and I can’t seem to stop. It just looks so beautiful. You’ve both called me beautiful. I don’t think I could name all the parts of me I’ve chosen as a canvas, and I don’t remember all the pain. I can barely recall what I ate for breakfast… if I ate breakfast. But I know how many minutes have passed (or, in your case, how many days)

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since your last message: sixty-two (three). I need you to keep me blue. No one has succeeded yet. I won’t be going home soon. There is nothing there like there is for me here, except you. But the skies have always been the most incredible shade of sunset red, especially on the beach. I want to memorize the color of your eyes on the street in my room on the beach at sunset. There is so much light to see, so many colors. For now, I am seeing only reds. I will not look anywhere else until I understand why.

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Pieces Priya Patel

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The Light Within Jyotsna Wase

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Corvid Kelly S I collect things like a crow: putting flowers into buttonholes and between books and under beds using receipts to line my nest as if lists of things I’ve bought can cover what I couldn’t and I wonder if it helps. I write to find out if it helps to dull the roar of my father Disappointment and of my mother Fear, who argue in my kitchen sink, in the slow drain of my shower, at my only window as I try in vain to sleep, whispering through the wall next to my bed to remind me that my simple needs are selfish and that I am their daughter: a creature called Deep Longing, five tongues tangling in one mouth and ten fingers on each hand and a rusted well for a stomach that my heart frequently falls into and no wings and no claws, but many things to run from and even more to carry with me. So I collect things like a crow to give me reasons – hard quartz reasons; lavender reasons; tall, blond reasons – not to miss the sky

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and like a crow I lose them when they fall from my laughing beak or tumble from my nest or leave like I cannot and like a crow I learn that I begin where I began: peering out a cracking egg, treating new holes like they’re windows I fill gaps with paper flowers, I make use of fallen feathers, I sweep the sadness, stir the dust, and write long lists to number all the things I can’t afford.

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Submit poetry, prose, & art fortnight-sub@umich.edu

Fortnight Volume 8 Issue 1  

The first issue of Volume 8, 2016/2017

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