FH Issue 9

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future histories issue 9

Dear Readers,

If you’re holding this magazine, you have perhaps encountered it on your walk to Spanish class – what’s this? you ask, turning the glossy pages over in your hands, delaying your arrival to that dreaded classroom justttt a little longer. Or perhaps its dazzling cover whispered your name whilst you were on yet another very necessary study-break-lap around Tisch. Regardless of how these pages happened to find your day, they are meant for you – for what lies before you is a, shall we say, manifesto of our – your – community.

Art and literature is, after all, a reflection of community. That is why it matters what texts get published. At Future Histories, we try to encompass the myriad voices and perspectives on our campus. Since its conception, this magazine has been committed to nurturing a community that is inclusive and diverse, and that doesn’t shy away from establishing itself in the new literary canon.

Over the past semester, our team and community members have worked tirelessly to put Issue 9 of Future Histories Literary Magazine together. We are indebted to each and every person who has contributed to this issue; the writers and artists whose work is featured here, the content review team that has juried in Braker each week, and of course, the incredible staff that has worked together to run the club and assemble the magazine.

From our first content review over two years ago, to late-night design team meetings, rabidly debating font choices, to now as co-chairs, this magazine has given us so, so much. We are SO grateful for this group of inspiring, driven, creative individuals, and we can’t wait to see what next semester brings!

With love, Lauren & Emma Co-Chairs, Fall 2022

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EMMA STOUT LAUREN FISCHER JAY GUO MADISON RED IAN SMITH GAIA SANTORO LECCHINI NEWT GORDON-REIN WILLIAM ZHUANG ELLA IRVINE SPENCER VERNIER RACHEL LIANG ALICE FANG AMELIA MILLER AGATHE SMITH SHAIYA SAYANI BELLA GISMUNDO-HOOK JASON EVERS JOSEPHINE YIP ALEXA HOPWOOD KAITLYN WELLS CO-CHAIRS: LEAD COPY EDITOR: LEAD DESIGNER: COPY EDITORS: DESIGN TEAM: SOCIAL MEDIA: WRITER LIASON: WRITER LIASON IT: ONLINE EDITOR: TREASURER: Our Team art | Kayla Butera fh 3

Featured Artists

photo | Yueyang “Matilda” Peng Amelia Miller (cover) Lauren Fischer Madison Red Kayla Butera
Special thanks to all of our content reviewers! fh 4
Maggie Brosnan Michelle Zhang Matilda Yueyang Peng Newt Gordon-Rein
Table of Contents Night Court - by Tony Li .............................................................................................. 6 Apostasy - by Tony Li .................................................................................................... 7 Primer - by Ian Smith .................................................................................................... 8 Untitled #64 - by Andres Arevalo ..................................................................................10 Three Times to Face the Sky - by Zoe Coyle ..........................................................11 I’ll be good - by Chloe Cheng........................................................................................12 isis the mother - by Ella Irvine ..................................................................................13 word for word - by William Zhuang ...........................................................................14 Dialogue - by Yueyang “Matilda” Peng ..........................................................................15 Part of me is sleeping by the Columbia River - by Veronica Habashy .............. 16 ode to moshing (one room galaxy) - by Annika Crawford .....................................18 A July Melody - by Raga Chilakamarri ........................................................................20 Cricket Love - by William Zhuang ..............................................................................21 Friday Night, Spring 2021 - by Sara Kessel ..............................................................22 Leaving the Dunkin’ - by Jay Guo ............................................................................24 Pearl Drizzling City - by Jay Guo .............................................................................25 To be Traveling in Time - by Newt Gordon-Rein ......................................................26 Light is Coming Past the Leaves Outside My Window, and It Is Early In the Day - by Spencer Vernier...........................................................................................28 Costco Plums - by William Zhuang ............................................................................29 ¡Welcome to Dallas, Texas! - by Andres Arevalo ................................................... 30 i feel like this is the moment where i kiss you - by Jake Merritt ...................... 31 The Day I Followed Tia to the Beach - by Juanita Asapokhai ...............................32 fh 5

Night Court

Pause your prayers to hear the sunset’s trailing sigh, where black entangles blue divine beneath her golden eye.

Janus is her warden, and Ouranos her cage. When nightfall’s inquisition ends, sweat paints her scarlet stage.

Forbidden amber dreams from rousing woods emerge. Green rays flutter, a tryst unfolds— beware love’s guilty surge.

Claw with tearful fingers powerless seconds gone, for starry canopies belie nature’s panopticon.

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art | Amelia Miller

apostasy

Hollow ring these incantations of silent guilt surfeit.

In sunken ashen cloisters sleep lovers inveterate.

Away from shame’s cowering gaze their sultry sockets turned. No earthly law could tame their kiss, they laughed while Eden burned.

No gilded pacts they deign to sign, nor passé scriptures parse— Yet yearn with fallen firebrands to swing with bleeding stars.

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photo | Lauren Fischer

P R I M E R

I am not German. I am not Polish. I am not Puerto Rican. I am not even a little bit British. I am not a Smith-Ozga. I am not a Roman-Amador. I am not an Amador-Perez, or a Roman-Santiago, or any of the other names that stretch out past the knots of my family’s most gnarled roots.

I am not island, or mainland, or anything in between. I did not ever have to exchange one home for another. I did not cross oceans with a dream cradled in my lap. I did not ever hear a train / boat / car / carriage that signaled the beginning of the end of a life spent sheltered inside the walls of a native tongue. A native food. A native barrio, or bliskość, or brother.

I do not have my mother’s eyes. I do not have my father’s eyes, because my eyes are blue like some god pressed a gold-haloed sky with their thumbs and wiped the juice on eggshell canvas, and my parents’ eyes are dark enough to event horizon.

photo | Newt Gordon-Rein
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I am not adopted, even though I insisted I was for a good portion of my childhood because I didn’t look like either of my parents, with my god-stained eyes and twisted hair. I am not a war, though I feel like one sometimes.

I am not half Indian. I am not Italian. I am not Hawaiian, or Polynesian, or ‘That Mexican’, or any of the other things my high school peers called me. I am not, then, to blame for turning my existence into a game, because it was much easier to reply with a wink and a “guess” every time someone asked me what I was made of.

I am not one to put words in the mouths of anyone, but how could I not feel like some thing when they would try to pet my hair, or tell my family how beautiful we were. I am not a Rorschach test. I am not an exhibition. I am not an exercise in colonization, I hope. And I am not deaf to the murmurs on either shoulder. I have not yet reconciled this face or married these skins that unfurl past fields of grain and carpenter’s tables, across church steps and oceans and train tracks and iron stoves laden with oil. I am not my history because I am my own, and that’s what I’ll hold on tightly between my hands as I journey onwards.

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Untitled #64 Untitled #64

I still remember picking up the phone, Krrrr krrrr krrrr ‘I will break up with you, unless we fuck.’

I had never touched a woman before.

A child. Messy hands running wild through the muddy grass my mother used to hit me if I ever came back with dirt on my body. You can touch me I’m nervous Just do it; My hands trembling, inside her dark tight jeans.

by Andres Arevalo by Andres Arevalo

First, the jump of touching the side, then my fingers inside; inside someone, that has to mean something right?

We failed the first time we tried, But we stood naked; I guess that meant something to me? To you it only meant telling me I could not call myself a Man.

A man? Being a man? that’s what got me hooked on the desire inside my pants, to the dirt inside my nails; God, what a dirty child. art | Maggie Brosnan

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Three Times to Face the Sky

A friend of mine nearly drowned once in the Bering Sea, his foot tangled in a line attached to a rapidly sinking crab net. Middle of the night and it took him overboard before he had time to yell. I wonder about the fall from deck to black water. Did it seem like a long way? Did he have time to inhale, to brace himself for the cold?

The line dragged him down down down down. The other fishermen couldn’t winch the line back up– it would have taken his leg off. But my friend, he had a knife in his boot to cut the line, and he was good at staying alive. He came to the surface and the boat, so big, so much momentum, had moved on. Down he went again. And he fought his way up; and he sank his way down. And he was under the water and he was trying to remember which way was sky and which was endless black depths and he gave up. He closed his eyes. He remembered his three young boys and his wife who he loved as well as he knew how, and just like a story he kicked hard, legs seizing in the cold, and he broke the surface and there was the boat. It was right on him. It was bearing down hard and fast and he waved and yelled, wild quick hoarse yells, the air forcing its way out of his lungs, and his crewmates thought they were going to be recovering his body and they waved and yelled and dragged him back on board. He took a hot shower and was working the nets again an hour later.

The ship’s captain used to be in the navy, you understand. He knew the right course for a man overboard: not a u-turn, but a line and a circle and a line–a lollipop. The ship ended up right where she was when her man fell over. It shouldn’t have mattered–no one survived in water as cold as that. But the captain was thorough and my friend lived. He was really good at staying alive.

A decade later he was flying in to captain a ship through a snowstorm and his helicopter went down. Smoke and silence and a great gray craft vanishing into the snow. The crash couldn’t kill him– why would it? He made it to the raft, even, but Search and Rescue couldn’t get to him. He died of exposure. He was good at staying alive.

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art | Maggie Brosnan

isis the mother

screaming with bare feet in the blood that tastes like wine and devotion or a collapsed body convulsing in the desert or a field soaked in melted bullets and mercury and a woman telling me she gave birth to a child last night, alone and who was she? because I saw her, her right ear tied with light pink twine to the starving, salivating earth and her fingernails stained the color of the UNDERWORLD, isis picking up the pieces of her husband clutching a baby like it is a secret that she carved into herself– scarlet skin a whisper sharper than a scythe and solitude deeper than eternity blooming

like a rose or a bouquet of leaves or a sacrifice dripping in stillness, silhouetted in smoke, wearing a shawl of salt across her shoulder blades.

is the baby even alive? I watch her as she watches me, eyes opening then closing, drowning in this silence that floods the spaces between all the words we dare not say.

art|Madison
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Red

Word for Word

Grandpa comes from a muted age Where expressions are likely swallowed, So he pours love word for word Into knee-deep pots and moon-shaped woks.

Each year he tests the freezer’s limit, The poor buzzing thing filled to the brim; Only releasing its burden of goods When his daughters’ children return.

For now I get family photos Of smiling faces besides china dishes, Wondering if my share is saved When I too knock on Grandpa’s door.

I really miss you! Grandpa said to me The last time we called, and It made me flinch a little, just how Sudden his silence snapped;

After rehearsing all his life Only to lose at the age of eighty, Deprived of his hushed language When reunions seem few to none.

And I began despising myself For his dignity I stripped at last, Finding myself desperate for pardon Yet choked on tokens of love.

photo| Matilda Yueyang Peng
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Dialogue

I left the apartment one afternoon with chilly winds,/ believing I could find more if I gave myself more space./ But I went at the wrong time, between afternoon and night,/ that awkward interim of dusk. So I asked how/ the night is repeatedly too short and the day/ continuously too long; every night interchanges,/ while all days merely shadow the recurrent night./

I did not respond because I was t tearing out/ another page from the miniature journal/ I would give as a present./ After all, my words aren’t plausible enough to be gifts/ but only exist as lifeless marks on the page./

The frugal wind shed all its frigidness on me,/

the sunless cold steadily more numbing./

I asked if I should go home by myself, but it was not yet a long enough walk./ So I kept mincing in the frosty dusk, and kept myself/ silent until desperate came with a desire/ for homely warmth./ I walked more into the woods in the middle of/ the intertwining roads asking myself/ what could have been done to make things right./ Why? To make what right?/ To this question why, I again asked why,/ so I picked up a perfect-looking pinecone/ so pristine, and crushed it with my feet.

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art | Maggie Brosnan

Part of me is sleeping by the Columbia River

The rest of me wilts. I have been creased open, only seeing salmon, a glittering run, migrating up a falling ladder, and the vulgar way they climb. I know that despite this the others are fighting in the next room. Are screaming and Nobody is standing to worry for the salmon like I do. (When will they learn the sacrifice of weariness?) They only think how: to win and: to hurt but they are not even thinking of Hurt. Only themselves.

The selfishness of victory never needs to be taught.

What if: silver and meek and blessed, the fish cannot make it back home? And: the porch light was left on, the key rusting beneath the mat and the worry growing stale beneath a single living room lamp?

Sometimes I feel that we have chosen to fear the wrong things.

photo | Matilda Yueyang Peng
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How does the apple’s bruising make it sweeter? Some thanks for the gift of kind fruit.

The ladder seems Difficult and it’s getting Cold. What then? Who then to inherit the earth?

Don’t we all deserve to draw a sigh of relief at one time or another? Some pyrrhic victory.

I claw before me for noise, for water, weight. I am starving for a heaviness I have never known.

Only finding the flailing body. Rushing river.

Force of the fractured pink flesh–Marred by the jagged northward rocks–I know that it’ll be sweeter once we get to it. Once it is all over.

The rest of me wilts.

by Veronica Habashy

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ode to moshing ode to moshing

bodies bump and toss like drunk planets ringed in arcs of hair instead of light I feel your hand tight around my waist

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what if your
hit the
I kick a shoe
unraveling— our
crash
we
opposite directions laughing? (one-room galaxy)
so
feet fall-and
floor and you come up brighter—
revolves against the wall
shoulders
and
go
(one-room galaxy) fh 19
art & photo | Michelle Zhang & Matilda Yueyang Peng

A July Melody

Wrinkled sheets, twisted and disregarded at the foot of the bed, swept off in the still heat of a deep summer night, nights when only the fan, whose man-made wind stings sharply through tear ducts, offers some rhythmic solace

The afternoon reigns, stealing transitions from morning, and languidly, unabashedly drones on, suspended, questioning the promised inevitable ticking and turning how summer escapes us

Against the prickling grass, limbs resting upon limbs, we dream in daylight, the sun rays dance across our eyelids, skin radiated, burning. Relief and respite under our shaded haven, and back out again, rolling onto golden patches where green filters from one shade to the next Music shouting out loud, bursting off our lips or someone else’s, and that brief breath before blue submersion so sudden and welcome: we are what we melt into, licking delicious droplets and then gasping for renewed breath

Lights off, TV on, couches damp under our thighs, crumbs decorate flooring as we mull theorizing heartache into a before and after, laughter and remembering laughter, and again and again and again…

photo | Lauren Fischer
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Cricket Love

You love crickets in the summer, How they sing into the world From fern shades unseen.

With their tireless twitters

Every silence is filled Till loneliness is silenced With no room to echo.

I wanna be your cricket crowd, Hidden behind rustling leaves Through seasons to change, To practice love in shadows Till you reach my shade, And I’ll be perching ahead Rhapsody in every breath.

William Zhuang photo | Matilda Yueyang Peng
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Friday Night, Spring 2021 Friday Night, Spring 2021

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One shot of tequila left. “A Trip to the Moon” by George Méliès. The trombone pulled low, descending. Trumpets colored all the wizards, their beautiful, airy trousers and starry hats pointed up to the sky. The head magician put the moon on the chalkboard.

She heard voices coming down the dorm hall. A weaker magician doesn’t believe— they can’t just draw a dotted line, fly to the moon. A group of women brought them a change of clothes that calmed them down. The wizards were industrialists now; they raised their canes and stormed off. Phoebe and Julia had said they would watch it, too. She doesn’t want to ask again, she doesn’t want to hold their words as a promise. She doesn’t want to shut herself in, pull down the cell bars.

Workers formed the base of the spaceship, a large metal bullet reflecting the moonlight. The head magician led a group to watch the smoke as it billowed out of the factory. Soot bubbled at the top like a giant silver balloon. She is drunk now. Drank the rest of the month-old hard apple cider flattened in the minifridge earlier. It’s a Friday night, but she’s on medication and not supposed to be drinking. There’s not that much to do in the middle of February, in the wasteland of frozen muck. There were only quiet, infected nights, not like they used to be. After the sun became small. After everything cold and dark showed themselves to her. Now there was nothing better to do than to sit in your dorm with your friends: she was stuck with them anyway. It was time to go to the moon. The conductor ushered in the trumpets again, the bullet fired impossibly out of a cartoonishly long musket. The clouds faded the observers out.

They were closer now, Phoebe and Julia and the rest of them. She can hear them right beside her door, drunk, more than she was, flowing in and out of the other rooms, stomping down the hall, a full brass band. The moon’s lips were full and red. He smiled like the devil, he fooled all of them, all of the earthlings, until the bullet entered his eye and the clay melted right off. They were on the moon. The idiots crawl into the first crater they see, she can still hear them, together, shaking the gates with the occasional brush of a manicured hand, they run around the dorm floor, around their playground, the men were in the cavern now, lush with bright yellow mushrooms and jagged fields, and grew surprised when one of the mushrooms rises above the ground and sprouts an alien, are you really surprised, they sneer through the gates, that you’re alone, that we struck you with the magical sword, you put your legs over your head and circled around us so many times that the fate of your world was always meant to end in a boiling heap.

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I saw a woman parked, wiping her cheeks in the driver’s side dome light. My breath caught— I wanted to rush forward and rap on the glass, tell her: me too, me too!

I fall in love with boys who don’t love boys, grew my hair out for a girl

I don’t speak to any more, when my friend hanged themself last Winter with an iPhone cable I spent all my time in bathrooms and bus stops and cars alone too, only able to cry sitting in places I couldn’t stay. Talk to me, and I’ll long you tightly. It’s irresistible having your heart broken every day. The car spluttered alive and rolled away, and I stood motionless in the dim-lighted parking lot.

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art | Michelle Zhang

Pearl Drizzling City

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To be Traveling in Time To be Traveling in Time To be Traveling in Time by

I feel so strongly the sensation of becoming.

The thought appeared in my head as I was walking back to campus with my newly restrung violin on my back and a paper bag full of groceries clutched in one bruised hand. In my ears, an audiobook picked for its length and the cadence of the reader’s voice seeped through borrowed, plasticky headphones. A scene made from tinny words built itself up behind my eyes. A boy reading Virgil in the original Latin on a dusty back porch. I don’t know Latin. I don’t really know French, either, but I do try to read in French sometimes, and the thoughts of the boy from the book feel like an echo through time. I too appreciate the different curves and rhythms of a foreign language.

I didn’t realize until reading its French equivalent that a “being” is a creature defined by its persistence through time. A consciousness, in the act of existing. A human, in terms of the life they live, the actions they take, the places they go.

When I first came here a year ago, the Boston subway system was a wild and foreign beast. I count it as a win that I am now more stressed about the things I am en route to do than the train hopping required to get there. Now the scratchy carpet seats feel like home, and when I sit in their scoops, I notice the world in the windows rushing by. I wrote a poem one time, feeling especially transient on the Red Line. It goes: Circuit board subway system not even Trying to hide Are we noble electrons Energy transfer T for Train Shoving against 1 and 1 and 1 Seeming being solidity Un être Only one thing’s for sure And it’s is/am/are

I stepped over the familiar dislodged sidewalk, pitched up like a tent by the robust pressure of subterranean tree roots. Thinking about being. I don’t remember what it was like to be nine and a half; to still count the divisions between years. The past years of my life are bunching together, shrinking down to essential details. Will these years I am now living seem small someday, too? Every day in college I feel like I am forming my future self, sculpting in the dark. How can the person that I am ever hope to create the person that I will be without knowing them yet?

The thing is, I am not really sold on the concept that we persist through time. My brother gave me a book that talked about how the flowing of time from second to second is essential to our perception of the world. How time is the fourth dimension. How we know things are

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things because they are recognizably the same across time. Seeing something once, instantaneously, is not enough. Ergo, being something once, instantaneously, is also not enough. And what of us? What does this mean for our capricious bodies? According to the book about time, when things change physically—shift or deform in the first three dimensions from one moment to the next—they no longer exist as the things that they were. Constantly, each tiny part of the human body shifts, changes, or breaks, so that in every instant, effectively, we end. It made me feel like I live in a traded body.

I went into the city to buy new violin strings because my old ones had been dead for weeks. The sounds they produced were dull and gray and wouldn’t let my violin sing, and I can’t hear it if it doesn’t sing to me. I felt like a fraud in the violin shop. I don’t have many words for music, for technicalities of tone and hum. I mostly get by on feeling.

My big canvas jacket cloaked my upper body—the off-brand Carhart one which used to be burgundy, which I stole from my brother and then left at the house of a friend who kept it like forgetfulness entails a shift in ownership, and I pestered him every time I saw it until he unsheathed his arms from the sleeves one day in the big foyer by the gym doors, bunched it in his hands, and threw it at me, and it was mine again. It was raining and I should have chosen something waterproof, but I felt like I needed clothing that subsumed my body, making the particulars of the shape that I was obsolete.

I am so concerned with bodily beauty. Will I ever not be? Is that something that comes from inside, and will seep steadily out of my pores, for now and for always?

My right hand is bruised from the stubborn plastic handle of an analog metal bending machine. I was passing rods through and through the machine, coaxing a thing of movement out of the straight-cut steel. Somewhere between the repetition and an accumulated coating of dark grease, the steady deep breaking of blood vessels beneath my palm was lost to me. The next day, I stretched and felt a popping soreness in that hand and saw three evenly spaced bruises like a fading ellipsis traversing my palm.

I shifted my fingers on the paper handle of the grocery bag, holding it with two at a time to let the others rest. The gentle swinging oscillations my creeping fingers produced seemed to mirror the fluid curves of the shapes I was creating the day before; the handle of the bending machine, turning, turning. The swing of my hips. The hairpin rush and ebb of my breath. Something human about gradual, non-stopping movement. My fingers ached. I don’t know why I didn’t think to carry the grocery bag with the other hand.

I guess there are fallacies in my logic about the time-person interface. I do believe that every changing second causes the current me to disappear forever, but a next version is necessarily created in its place. The way sound waves travel through the air, not by moving the particles but by pushing quick one against the other. It’s about energy transfer. We may not be continuous, but there must be something to be said for a mercurial persistence: a being that is always different, and always singing, and always more.

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photo | Newt Gordon-Rein

I am putting on my clothes again; They were yours, too. Everything has since been misplaced— My frame forces itself downstairs, Out the chipped-paint door, Onto the patchwork street, And you are nowhere near. Summer declines in the rearview.

L ig h t i s Cimo n g P ast t he L e aves Outside MyWindow, andItIsEarl y I n t h e D a y

Still, I think I see you in the hammock Sometimes, and I remember: I could not tell where your Body ended and mine began, Soft kisses ringing Through my ears as your friends Came out onto the deck.

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art | Michelle Zhang

COSTCO PLUMS

Mom leaves a new batch Of Costco plums atop the Kitchen counter while we Distract ourselves With apples and pears.

The following days we spend Waiting for flesh to soften And bruises to settle, Turning verdant tartness Into promising shades.

I yearn to take a generous bite Into one squishy and plump, The kind where juice pulses Out from peeling skin leaving Sticky fingers behind;

Before suckling my way Thoroughly across all ten, Catching every drop of Sweet blood condensed before Washing off with water.

Weeks of summer are measured Between ripening and devouring, Soon it shall come time

To face the feathery weight Of another empty box.

Someday I’d like to teach my tongue Pink buds bulging like corals, To dance in a ripe fruit’s absence As though its offer still stands To send me upon sugary heavens.

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!Welcome To Dallas, Texas¡

Up on the screen.

Half my house held in my bag.

Dreams up North, family down South.

I hear, I hear, I hear, how my back crackles and drags.

I hear, I hear, I hear, I can could never be one of them.

If they’re the Americans, then who are we?

A foreigner to my people; Who the fuck do I belong to now?

Some place in between. Nowhere; that yellow line that tells you to wait. The officer calls me up to the stand.

“You can have your papers back.” (You subhuman human Alien)

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art | Maggie Brosnan

i feel like this is the moment where i kiss you and leaf-like shadows of perished hopes beautiful, in light’s youthful enthusiasm in gray’s wise embrace i feel like this is the moment where i kiss you falling heavily, slowly on dreamless fantasies wrought from weak souls i feel like this is the moment where i kiss you,

by Jake Merritt
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photo | Lauren Fischer

The Day I Followed Tia to the Beach The Day I Followed Tia to the Beach

The Tuesday I followed my old best friend Tia to the beach we drove to a discount furniture store that emerged right off the interstate–a big-box warehouse that sprawled like a football stadium between a tiny Jamaican restaurant and a small construction project a couple of hundred feet away, flagged for onlookers by a large and rusting yellow crane suspended in the air. I had seen the crane a quarter mile back; when Tia saw it, she nodded and said, “Port-a-Potty” instructively, tapping her knuckle against her window to redirect our course. I slid us over into the exit lane, while Tia pulled long strands of peeling leather from her seat like a bored teenager.

“Those are definitely not open to the public,” I said as I pulled up beside bands of construction tape. She had already released the clasp of her seatbelt by the time my car rolled to a stop.

“So?” she replied, cracking open the car door and slipping out of the vehicle. “These dudes are probably some kind and generous gentlemen that won’t mind me using their dirty bathroom.”

“Please be nice,” I mumbled. She slammed the door in response.

I watched her as she waved at the group of construction workers surrounding the crane with both of her hands, her footsteps directed towards the shock-blue container standing stationary beside them. I could see Tia switch all of her weight onto one foot and point to the Port-a-Potty. The man closest to her, gripping a hammer by its claw, shook his head slowly. He appeared to be smiling, the skin of his forehead wrinkled and raw, glossed over with sweat, like a red onion torn open, but he remained squarely between Tia and the bathroom. She threw her hand over her shoulder without turning around, and the man’s gaze shifted to my car, squinting directly at my face. He shook his head again, this time pointing the hammer at her for emphasis. Tia straightened her spine so she stood at her full height before turning around abruptly.

“I can’t understand how they expect me to believe that it’s a health hazard to let one more random person shit in a toilet that’s been shit in by a hundred random people this year already,” she complained, slamming the door upon her arrival. She stared out the window

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at the men again and rolled her eyes, before glancing to her right at the furniture store and the small crowd trickling inside.

“Let’s try over there. There’s definitely a bathroom.”

“Would you want to go shopping for the apartment?” I asked. “Or are we just windowshopping today?”

She paused to look at me with a delighted grin on her face, revealing the badly chipped and jagged front tooth that kept her familiar to me, even as when time threatened to smoothen her into a stranger, and my breath clipped in my chest.

“I knew I brought my wallet with me for a reason. I can already picture my room with a new desk.”

*

For the longest time, when I dreamed of my future home, I always saw lots and lots of stuff–a once-barren space since sealed up and overflowing with objects, evidence of my self and my belongings tucked everywhere it could, from the front door to the kitchen sink. Ornately designed dining chairs, couches that contorted themselves in unnatural ways as if to impress the human beings that used them; brassy door knobs, lush carpets that licked softly at the soles of feet; walls that were papered and colored at four corners. And yet, my mind was never imaginative enough to picture another person to inhabit the space with me. In the dreams, my head appeared alone.

Tia had a tendency to talk in vague impressions and ideas. A bed with pink, fitted sheets and a wide window, constantly cast open for life–she wove the hum of street noise into her fantasy, chatter from her neighbors, Tia’s own voice pouring through the screen. She had sketched her dream home for an art class during our junior year of high school: a geometric, sparsely decorated apartment that looked like an empty theater stage. It gaped, she said, aching for people, but was held over in a warm glow by the assurance of their imminent arrival. I am so terribly uncertain that I buy a lamp that looks like a person–if people had heads that were shaped like lightbulbs and spines that curved at 60 degrees–and a set of short black and white curtains that could pass for coats hung on a rack if you stared long enough. Tia grabbed a white towel with a “B” sewn into it off a rusted rack.

...continue reading at futurehistoriesmag.org

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photo | Matilda Yueyang Peng
art | Amelia Miller fh 34
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art | Maggie Brosnan