prose poetry non-fiction
future histories literary magazine issue 2
letter from the editors I’m sure you’re wondering why we brought you all here. For those of you reading Future Histories for the first time, allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Tufts’ semi-annual literary magazine, which is to say we have the pleasure of cultivating a metaphorical communal garden, irrigating metaphorical seeds planted by comrades around Tufts until, at last, the metaphorical art-berries spring up. After a long semester of harvest metaphors, we’re here at last to present to you this literary/artistic shmorgishborg. When we kicked off this magazine last fall we knew that we’d be opening the floodgates of talent on this campus, but even now in our third semester, we can’t help but to feel overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of the incredible submissions we receive. Our content review team has sorted through dozens upon dozens of works anonymously and has had to make decisions that were sometimes heartbreaking. So many students have trusted this magazine with their works; we hope that this anthology does justice to their talents. Future Histories, by little strides, has been growing up. We successfully navigated the labyrinthine path to Official Senate Recognition and are really a club (for real! no kidding!) We held our first author talk, and collaborated with the Rez on our first open mic night. This is a burgeoning community, and we thank you for being a part of it; for spending time with us in life and in print. We hope you’ll also visit our website, futurehistoriesmag.com, where you can enjoy online-exclusive prose and poems, see artworks in their whole form, and keep up-to-date by following us on social media. Now, we leave you to your reading. Future Histories Presents: Issue 2. Yours, Sarah and Hunter Editors-in-Chief
cover art | alex gutierrez
co-chairs hunter silvestri sarah walsh
writer liaisons grace littell zachary mintz
treasurer daniel eslami
design editor siddhant talwar
art editor jeremy caldwell design team
copy editor samantha leong
emma davis alex gutierrez
online editor nicole cohen diversity chair may hong
events coordinator sara bass publicity chair denzel oduro publicity team grace van deelen dylan oesch-emmel
table of contents 5
greenland | alex eliasen
tilt | zack mintz
bildungsroman | katharine bowers
in love with a voice | ellie locke
11 carolineâ€™s lake | alice hickson 12
photo | casey chiang
five of cups | m.a. waskow
(untitled)| phyllis githinji for when friends are far away | c.a. schwartz i wanted to be a footballer | karishma chouhan there have always been ghosts | may hong today iâ€™m fine with that | aditi kocherlakota reciprocity | aberdeen bird mercury | jeremy caldwell trisomy 13 | madison reid university hearsestory | jonathan innocent fruit snacks | joseph harmon entertainment | isabella urdahl swan-song | sarah walsh to smile a silly smile | jeremiah sears grandmotherâ€™s drawings | ethan resek now: new | hunter silvestri there is a truth and itâ€™s on our side | nasrin lin
Greenland by Alex Eliasen
Skies are dark and hued Boots crunch deep in ice and wheat Brother died today His boat was tied tight Bodies are found at the docks Fish caught this morning The grey has seeped in A sickness the town canâ€™t rid Each month another Homes quiet and shut How to tell a country lives? Listen to the wind Water moves, earth shifts Its people are all silent Winter never ends
art | emma whalen
The trees bend under the weight of our mistakes. The grass knows this and more, so it grows tall, stalks stock-still save for the breeze that so effortlessly sways and twirls as it pleases, forceful indignation.
How many sunsets have glazed this scene tangerine? How many more until waters pour from the corals below and take with them footprints and misplaced energy? Acoustic perfection is difficult to attain. Even organists will attest that marble is too frigid to bear the brunt of notes and soliloquies, of rampant sermons or gilded show tunes. There lacks an understanding of how to move without breaking, how to change while remaining whole.
photo | isabella maharaj
by Zack Mintz
Some giant long ago came this way unbeknownst to the woodland creatures clinging to makeshift homes and marched right up this hill, I promise you.
Sometimes I forget how good lemonade tastes without vodka mixed in. Citrus stings your tongue as Sun beats down from above. Needless to say, itâ€™s warm out and my knees are burning and I could not care less.
(girl hangs rainbow flag in freshman dorm room) by Katharine Bowers I took it because it was free and bright and those are things that I’d like to be, too, beside the window and under the almond blossoms, catching hallway eyes and telling my secrets. racing my fears on hamster wheels, so many poems that my pen runs dry and it feels like I’m not wearing my shirts inside out anymore, like I’ve just figured out how to tie my shoes and not trip on the laces because I’m a cutting of jade from my grandmother’s garden, grown in weathered leather, the warm and dusty, the damp and the dark of my mother’s expectations, gasping for dry air and sun-baked terracotta, finding benches and bluegrass and butternut bisque, I grow up and out, filling petals with watered ink to write words that won’t evaporate on this sand-warm sidewalk I’ve been treading. I breathe in colors deep and full.
In love with a voice
by Ellie Locke
art | siddhant talwar
Caroline’s Lake by Alice Hickson
It was Will’s idea. Will, and the therapist. It’s part of the grieving process. We filled a jar with our tears, and waited for them to evaporate. Will put his letter in first, then a bunch of rocks from that summer, so it would sink. I wish I still believed in magic. I didn’t write a letter. I wanted there to be space for your soul to squeeze in. When he throws it and it hides itself in the mud, I want you to find it, and try to fit in.
One day, I will come looking. I will come to collect you, one day.
photo | isabella maharaj
Five of Cups
by MA Waskow
She, shattered, at the kitchen table, sits With empty heart as heavy as before. She’s motionless, for there’s no point to move-To rise, there’d be no lightness in her step. Were she to speak, her voice would hold no tone, To leave, she’d never find a better place. She blinks, and there is nothing in her eyes As vacant, they stare at the growing mess.
It started as a trickle, some small crack, The mug’s white sheen replaced by darker hues, As out dripped coffee, gently trailing down In slow black beads to swim about the base. The echoes of the clock swim in her ears; It’s ticking to the movement of the drink As now it streams about, to reach the edge, Where quickly it then splashes to the ground.
She watches them, each drop, as down they fall, And listens to the rhythm of the time That passes by each second that she sits And waits to feel something to move her mind. She’s trapped within her body, statuesque, As motivation’s absence holds her still Against her hopes to stretch, to clean, to change, And time and coffee drip and tick on by.
art | emma whalen
Sunken places Worn out basements Telephone pole laces Resting bitch faces There is power in narrative In erasing heritage In gerrymandering carriages. Our world will have you believe That positions of power Only go to a Steve Or a Bill But how many Bills Would control bills If we had gotten our bills For our labors unpaid, still Our world will have you think That just girls love pink And our boys don’t feel blue And, criminals are Black.
But which is more a crime? 40 Skittles in a bag Or 40 slashes to the back? Hoodied men more attacked Than hooded men. Unfortunate fact. This country is yours? Ok-k-kay. Is the owner the one who builds it Or the one who burns? Burning through resources Leaving no stone unturned. Except the gravestones, From which you turn away. Every. Single. Day. Unjust killings And you worried about How uncomfortable you’re feeling? — white tears
photo | phyllis githinji
by Phyllis Githinji
for when friends by C.A. Schwartz buy three packets of dark chocolate chips from the Giant Eagle supermarket. eat four, and bury the rest into the soil in your backyard, pushing them gently into the loose earth next to the geraniums. take your indoor cat outside and allow him to stare at the dirt, until he twists around to stare at the sky, until he twists around to stare at you and meow like you’re going to let him down so he can run away five feet onto the neighbor’s driveway and wait, frozen, for you to pick him up again. lay down on the grass to look at the clouds. twitch every time you think there’s an ant crawling on you. when there is an ant crawling on you, put it gently on the chocolate-chip soil. water with lemonade and the glitter from the inside of one of your grandmother’s snowglobes. take two garlic cloves, your favorite pencil, and a note from your childhood best friend. put them in a blender, and turn it on. place the dust you’ve made in a circle around a stovetop burner on which should rest a tea kettle filled with grape juice. go through the house and open all the blinds and doors. turn off the lights. if it is day, look through the window and wave at your neighbor. if it is night, pretend the faces watching from outside the glass are not there. turn the stove on, and watch what you’ve made go up in smoke. take the ash, and gently press into the refrigerator:
are far away pull taffy from the trees like // the blood, you know, the pigâ€™s head, oh the way it sank // when you called her name out, the crystals that form in the curve of the sandbank, the crystals that form // sometimes, i feel the sunlight and i think of you, crystalline, sunlight, the way it feels in the blood in the marrow in my bones, slow echoes // does the ice form // did you take the bubble wrap and pop it too close to your dog again // did you see the deer outside your window, milky eyes // the blood, you know, the deerâ€™s head, oh the way it sinks // when i forget to think of you, the way your voice is a song that i knew // before i knew, before i knew; pour the juice out of the tea kettle, mix with gelatin, and place in the fridge, being careful not to disturb your writing. sleep. in the morning, take it from where it hardened, and pin it to your front door. watch it drip in the summer heat. look at the sky, and imagine what the stars would look like, if they were here.
art | alex gutierrez
I Wanted To Be A Footballer
by Karishma Chouhan
In war, there are casualties. Here is where they rest. I woke up, covered in the charcoal ashes of my mother my lungs coated with my father’s; I could remember Shaytaan’s arrows piercing my town, sophisticated hell-fire: a bitter rain but I couldn’t remember where my football had landed. So I crawled, not for life, life disappeared after the second year the sky was muddied by the devil’s birds. I crawled for the inconvenience of dying, with nothing in my hands Shaytaan’s playground. I can’t die, my football is still hidden under the rubble; it will fill my empty hands, give me respite from the devil’s mercy. Mercy is all I ask for now, for what is an orphan boy to pray for when he has lost his innocence to war. fh 17
art | emma whalen
by May Hong
There Have Always Been Ghosts
The cab drivers here reserve the right to smoke out of their cars; pale foreigners here are called ghosts. San-li-tun, three old lis newly filled with so many so-called ghosts and international lights rushing to cross, clutching Pocket Beijings, onto the next: City unforbiddened, but who will stop to count the twigs frozen with its moat? What temple of whichever heaven does not bury ancient knees knelt begging? These walls have been said to be seen from space, a snake hardened in the cold capital, broken shovels and bones embalmed, the great hurt of wives and daughters missing bodies who built the architecture of adventures.
Reaching the top of Ba-da-ling, in huffs of visible breath. With ungloved hands I trace the cold tamped earth and they scream at the touch. fh 18
art | nicole cohen
Today I’m Fine With That In the beginning of the summer, my piss was dark brown, but many other things were happening. The laundry machine in my house had started to shudder, and the bottom of my backpack had a slow-growing hole in it, cautionary. Summer in Pittsburgh meant that the little kids stopped coming to bus stop outside my house in the morning time. It meant that my roommates and I would watch the news at night and complain about the heat together, and pretend not to care that Jake never put the toilet seat back down. We pretended not to care that we all ate different cereal from each other. When my piss turned brown, I figured it was from all the weed I’d been smoking, so I flushed the toilet twice. I worried that my roommates, who already disapproved of my pot habits, would see it. I spent more time staring at ceiling tiles than I did going to the grocery store, and my muscles felt sore and stiff. I worried that my roommates, who already judged me for having Cheeto dust on my fingers all the time, would think that my muscles had forgotten how to act right. Turns out my body had decided to stop metabolizing fats or something.
by by Aditi Aditi Kocherlakota Kocherlakota At the hospital, I was diagnosed with CPT II, which made sense because my father was an Ashkenazi Jewish male and a carrier of the genetic disease. At least my real father was, the one I found out about that day in the emergency room. There were always many things that I did not know. Firstly, my nose was big enough to grow potted plants in, and it had to have come from somewhere. I had always known there were secrets. I accidentally saw that my mom was ten years older than my dad on her driver’s license. That’s when I knew that they wouldn’t sit me down when I was 17 and tell me their love story, because their love story didn’t smell like linen. My dad was a choleric man and did not lack a sense of urgency, especially at the airport. When we missed our Christmas break flight, my dad stood in the center of the airport in his Hawaiian T-shirt and cargo shorts, yelling about how he was going to reveal the family secret. My mother stayed silent. Dad, the plane’s already in the air.
I had gotten two things out of Craigslist— —a weird roommate, and a weird job. It was the first place I went to after we came back from the hospital. I’d be working on a paint crew in Jersey, painting all kinds of stuff, painting insides and outsides of houses, and walls too. There were houses to be painted in Pittsburgh. I know, because I counted them on the train. That’s what my mother said when I told her I’d be gone for the summer. She couldn’t say much, on account of the fact that I had a different father than I had thought my whole life. Maybe she could tell me to pack a toothbrush. The farther we headed from Monopoly City, the more I saw. There was the one-story house on Sawyer with the peeling mango paint. There were no-name fh 19
houses in every cul-de-sac that could use a coat of eggshell white. Instead, I was headed to Summit, New Jersey like I had a mission, subletting with a 35-year-old woman who wore large earrings and smelled like sweater fuzz. I was 20, but I was young in other ways. I had just gotten my driver’s license that summer. I had been living by myself at university in Pittsburgh, but I wasn’t a real adult. I lived in a baby city, in a LEGO house with LEGO bricks, and ceilings too low to ever be taken seriously. I didn’t understand why there were so many people on the train. New Jersey didn’t seem like a destination to me.
played a lot of card games, which is what you do when you want to be around someone but can’t really stand the sound of their voice. It was kind of romantic, like when you make eye contact with someone through bookshelves. He made me feel like I wasn’t the protagonist of my own story, like I saw the entire world through the lines of graph paper. I loved him before I knew many things about him, like what his mother’s name was or whether he could piss in a straight line.
Everything I knew about my parents was Michigan. They were in school taking tests with fountain pens. This was a time when they were both where they were supposed to be. In Michigan, she might let a helium balloon float away, and my father might console her. He’ll play her music that sounds like Blackberry ringtones, and she’ll allow it. He’ll pick wild violets for her off the side of the road, and it’ll be romantic because he’s never watched a romantic comedy before. This is before I come, mudslinging. This is before I throw carrot mush at the wall and cause chaos in mall food courts. Later, my father will close the windows of our fabric-interior Honda civic, and accidentally crunch my index finger. His eyes will become soft, and this is when I will know for the first time.
I was the only girl on paint crew, the youngest of a group of fixer-uppers. There was Jun, who had gotten fired by the research lab he worked for, and who carried a lunchbox with two big compartments and four small ones every day to work. He was a sloppy painter, so he helped the electrician and moved furniture out of the way instead. There was Indila, who was rather beautiful except for some unfortunate features, like greasy bangs and chapped lips. Then there was Dylan, who wore New Balance sneakers but was in-demand in some strange way. He knew it, too, because whenever he entered any conversation everyone’s feet would turn towards him, open-face. There was something about the fact that he was 27 that made me feel like I was in middle school with a pink puff glitter pen, journaling about my hot teacher or something. The four of us would play card games at Dylan’s place. I didn’t really know what I was doing there, in a house that made me feel like the whole world was my backyard. I’d stick around after everyone had left. He took this to mean I was interested in him, and there weren’t too many other girls on paint crew, so he was interested in me too. We
On my last night in Jersey, everyone was in a sour mood, all for completely separate reasons. It was merely unfortunate—- everyone had gone home early. Jun had spilled orange juice on the deck of playing cards, so Dylan and I sat in the center of the yard instead, smoking. I had just washed my hair and it had risen like yeast, snarls over my shoulders in the humidity. He raked it back affectionately, with his big, knobby fingers, like it was taking up too much space. fh 20
I lit the bowl effortlessly and took a long hit, feeling the vapor hitch and snag on the walls of my throat, but I dido not cough. Wow! he laughed. You must really hate your parents. I couldn’t choose when he had lost respect for me. Maybe it was when I told him I still didn’t know my right from left sometimes, or that I didn’t know if Trenton was North or South from here, or when we had sex on his kitchen table. His hand was wet from the condensation on the glass of orange juice, and it was on my thigh. You know, I said. I could be back next summer. We could talk on the phone. And I could visit. Avery, you’re cool, okay, he said. I’m just not looking for anything right now. You’re 27, I said loudly in my head. What have I done? I’ve dropped hot coffee on slushy ice, I’ve pranced around on freshly laid grass, and now my guppies have eaten each other. I have to go, I told him. I have an early train to catch tomorrow. Okay, he said, and I imagine us married somewhere, in an apartment much smaller than this house, where the bathroom is five feet from the kitchen. We wouldn’t know the previous tenants by name but would have an intimate knowledge of the way they lived, from the stains they had left on the carpet. I would buy extra-plush toilet paper instead of 1-ply, and he wouldn’t even notice.
That morning, I stood at the platform waiting for my train that had been delayed. The next train is coming, and people bunch around me, wrist-watch-checkers, suitcase-hoisting do-gooders, sweetie-don’t-eat-all-those-goldfishit’ll-spoil-your-dinners. The fast train pulls in, and they are all gone, hurtling away. It startles me, even though I knew it was coming all along. fh 21
their love story didn’t smell like linen
RECIPROCITY by Aberdeen Bird Iâ€™d like to make you feel like a canning jar in the process of canning Pressure cooked and peachy Nectar pectin and mush fruit spittle dribbling over your lips and blowing sugar spit bubbles Drag a sponge down your spine Capped now and bathing Rattling now and waiting Anticipatory high-pitched steam screams and quaking Fall flat retract into disappointed fruit guts where they lie suspended as you jellify Perched on my counter after I pat you on the head toss you a towel and say thanks.
by Jeremy Caldwell
The sun didn’t fall for fifty-eight days And I broke my ears and my eyes Straining after a celestial body Tinted pink and pockmarked By fathers too proud to let you stray And shed feathers over brighter skies For fifty-eight days Was I cloudless enough for you? The year ended it eighty-eight days And by then the freckles Were too far away to count I’ve never disliked constellations before But when you took me to see the moon I closed my heart and roared past another Switchback turn The car didn’t stop when I left My mind on a lamplit street One street light more beautiful Than every star I couldn’t capture Because in the glow I wasn’t scared of you anymore. The drive lasted two minutes And eighty-eight days. A year had passed. How pathetic it feels To have the ability love you Only after you leave How enraptured I was With worldly pleasures And unread messages To notice the spiderweb Cracks in the train station walls I sat on a suitcase for eighty-eight days And left when the year was over fh 23
Trisomy 13 by Madison Reid
The chemical skunk musk of sweat in rubber gloves removed fills the room CLOSE THE WINDOW because horns’ horns sound too close to the end of a miracle requests CLEAN NEEDLES PLEASE that have already been cleaned to sterilize stability to stay – We spray poison on the grave to render grass lifeless smoke tokes bait to curl grief into a given shape glass refracts, exacts the eye
|m an dy
ros en gre
a blinked stutter a glass jar to fill I won a game tiptoeing helixed tightropes because his snapped right at the heart of it and mine didn’t
University Hearsestory by Jonathan Innocent
I remember when I was a kid, anytime I would get hurt or sick my grandmothers would have medicine for me Their drugs were stored within the cabinets of the pharmacies I’d call their kitchens… I remember just sittin… I remember just listenin Nana would be remeniscin... bout HERstories bout Black bloodlines, Black and deeper than the black sea As Grandma would boil black herbs and invoke black spirits to enliven the essence of that Black tea They gave back Black to Black me. Whether it was with that organic face cream to eliminate the blackheads and acne or with the rich Jamaican cornmeal porridge and Haitian Labouyi I was indulged by these Black queens. But soon it seemed... their lessons and blessings could not compete with the lessons of oppression You see Now, when I get sick or hurt… I must go to Babylon school, learn Babylon laws, and respect Babylon’s “Police” You see Oppression is a locked chamber of sickness, and Babylon hinders my release You see I have been sent from grandma’s pharmacy and enrolled in white man’s university And instead of pursuing ME and my HERstory, I’ve fallen sick with the poisonous pursuit of HIS degree The Babylon Doctorate, to him I go and see, searching for the remedy to my misery… And look at what the fuck he gives me… his well concocted stew of Politrickery I tell him what I really need. I need to be Freed. ...And listen to what he tells me: “Freedom ain’t FDA approved, but I’m sure your insurance covers you if you’d like to get your cancerous desire for freedom surgically removed.” fh 26
art | denzel oduro
Fruit Snacks by Joseph Harmon I am writing this while I sit on the porch and eat my daughter’s fruit snacks. I’d rather have something else, but this just happens to be the way it has all worked out, and I am content with that. So much is running through my head right now. It blurs and distorts into one, like lights from speeding cars, like people speaking too fast in conversation. My hand can’t go fast enough to get it down. It’s a problem. Some kids are driving by at molasses speed. Their music pulses from their windows, forcing the glass to inflate with the notes. Their heads bob in the shadows of the back seat. I try to look sort of mean into the distance so they will know to pass by. They do. They were never interested. The fruit snacks are the ultimate achievements of my daughter’s world. They are prizes for doing things she is supposed to do: her homework, her full night’s sleep, her basketball games. She loves them. She unfolds the silvery packet so carefully, guiding the tear across the plastic with her tiny fingernail. She picks them out one by one, arranges them by color around her palm, and savors each one as she leans back on the patched sofa. It makes me smile to see her do this. It makes me smile to see her happy so easily. Are you wondering if I’ll tell you why? Where her mother is? I promise you’ll figure it out. Before She left, She told me not to make so many promises. She called me a solicitor, forcing flyers under her door, handing her coupons in the street. Empty grin, biting deep in the corners of her words, Empty purpose when the flyers run out. So I won’t use her name. You don’t need it. I don’t know what to do with my daughter’s hair. I’m a little embarrassed for her at games, where I can see it tangle like yarn around her shoulders as she jumps. I think the other girls notice. I wish they
would swoop in and teach her what to do. They all have bright clips and beads of their own, which sometimes clatter to the gym floor after practice. I think they’re withholding information. She is in bed now, probably tossing and turning until the sheets twist around her legs. She hasn’t been able to sleep for a while. I tell her to look at the ceiling until her eyes get heavy, which is what my dad would tell me to do. He was less patient than me, and maybe this is the problem. She always complains that staring doesn’t work; she sees shapes forming on the ceiling. One time she said she saw something shiny, a little silver edge, and thought it was a knife cutting through the plaster. So I went, “No one would cut through the ceiling.” And she went, “I know, I checked. I touched the silver spot.” And I went, “Why?” She said, “To make sure.” Sometimes she falls out of bed during a bad dream, and I have to run up there to make sure she’s alright. Then her dreams must leak into mine, because for the rest of the night I do nothing but save her. She falls out of trees with her head aimed for the ground. A stranger leads her to his van. She’s frozen in the path of a speeding truck. Of course I am prepared for these things. If she starts to cry, I rush through the house in the pitch black to reach her. She is safe within seconds, but the next danger is already waiting to jump out. Writing that made me paranoid. I’m going to go check. I checked. I also fell asleep on the couch, and that was nice. I had the kind of sleep where you sort of blink back into existence, your rest is barely a blip and before you know it you are awake again. This makes me feel ready for a second. I can face everything. The tasks start to build up as I make her breakfast. The counter is covered with bills that need paying. As I gently pry her from the warm fh 27
cocoon of her room, I am a little jealous. I wish for her problems. I wish I could do her homework instead, play on the monkey bars, chatter with a little circle of friends. She’s a very lucky girl. And she also isn’t, of course I know that. I drape her arm around the back of my neck and carry her out of bed. She doesn’t really want to go, but she doesn’t fight me. She knows it’s time to get up. The curve of her profile is almost a mirror image of her mother’s, softened and shrunk. I think about what She said once. “She doesn’t like me,” She said a long time ago. “What do you mean, she doesn’t like you?” I said then. “She’s your daughter.” “She’s cold around me. She doesn’t like it when I hold her.” “She loves you. Of course she loves you.” “I can’t even cook for her. She doesn’t like my food.” “I can cook. Don’t worry about it.” “How is someone like me supposed to have a daughter?” “I think you’re just not used to it yet.” “No,” She told me, shaking her head kind of slow, like She’s seen someone dying on the street corner. She has to be respectful, knowing that She will leave them behind and forget them, but still, it’s so unfortunate that they had to end up this way. “What are we going to do today, Daddy?” my girl asks me after she finishes her breakfast. “I’m gonna go to work,” I say, and then try to boost up the optimism. “And you’re gonna go to school and see your friends. You’re going to have a great day.” “Okay,” she says. Outside there is an empty bottle of whiskey in the middle of the sidewalk. And then I have a great idea, so I reach down to shake the last drops of liquid from it. She forgot her coat inside, so I send her to go grab it. I’m writing this quickly now. “We’re going to take a little detour before school,” I’ll tell her.
She’ll ask me, “For what?” because she’s always curious. I’ll ask her if she knows what a message in a bottle is. “It’s when someone needs help,” I’ll say, even if she knows. “They put some writing inside, cork it up tight, and it floats to somebody far away.” So I’m driving to the cliffs at the edge of town, and I’m going to let her throw it, because she has a great arm and the coach keeps telling me I should have her practice at home. She’s going to throw it as hard as she can, and it will make a tiny splash as it enters but nothing special, nothing dramatic. We’ll see the light bounce off it and know that it’s floating. It will start to move slowly, pulled back a little, and pushed forward, pulled back like it’s teasing us, and pushed forward again. We’ll be able to see that it’s moving, it’s leaving, it will find you somewhere. I’m writing my address. I know you’ll get it, and I know you’ll know what to do. I’ll be waiting and she will too, my little girl, the girl that makes me so proud. She’ll come back to the car in a few minutes, after letting all her clothes slide from their hangers and pile up on the floor. She’ll be swinging her coat, and she will look so happy as she does. It will take her a couple tries to pull open the door, and when she does, she will buckle herself up and I will tell her where we’re going. I’ll invite you inside, because I’ll know you just from the look on your face. You will be smiling and a little scared, but you will have the bottle in your hand. I’ll crack open a beer for you and we’ll talk like old friends. I’ll offer you some fruit snacks because they’re the only food we have in the house right now. They’ll be your reward for finding it, for reading it, for coming all this way. I hope it’s okay that I’m telling you that up front. You should be proud of yourself. My girl will show you how you’re supposed to eat them, sorted into color and eaten one at a time, held up to the light to see how they glow, and then chewed, slowly, like the next one might never happen. fh 28
art | emma davis
by Isabella Urdahl
my little brother a sparkler
they fireworked my cousin
swelling— my uncle filled with fallout i’m sorry for your loss they say— less than the weight of a dollar bill that’s how much their condolences weigh less than 2% of the chain reaction poison that burst my family into a lightshow 98% they would have spewed
much less than the everywhere
to create the greatest
lightshow on Earth i’m sorry they say they say they say— for the pitiful cracklings on their TV ignoring the inferno they relegated to channels unseen flaming in Tokyo my mother brûlées ashes to ashes they all but slow-cooking news means no one thinks to come around i spoon my family into flowered vases that rest on my dresser their glaze catching the reflection of my soot-streaked face fh 29
to sweep them up
art | casey chiang
* less than 2% of the amount of uranium in the Hiroshima bomb that could have detonated, actually detonated. The amount that did react weighed less than the weight of a dollar bill. 135,000 people died in Hiroshima. 64,000 in Nagasaki. But 100,000 civilians also died in the Tokyo firebombings. 450,000 other parents, uncles, aunts, children, and family members in total were lost in forgotten bombings and battles.
Swan-song (to the collapse of lungs)
by Sarah Walsh The spring is wound, and it will uncoil by itself, it does not matter how much residue sticks to your forearm, how many new motions you found to slip your hands inside of, how you chew bendy straws instead, now, for years. Tragedy is clean, restful, flawless. Everything is inevitable, hopeless, and known. This is not a melodrama, which is to say, all are bound to their parts and it does not matter about the broken systems. That we all suffer this. It does not matter about the men, it does not matter about the deaths. About how she will turn sixteen and her father will collapse at a family barbeque, and he will die laughing. Or how she will turn sixteen and get sent away to Arizona, away from the vandals and lowlives, the older boys who only want one thing. It does not matter why she starts or why she continues or that at 19 she will fall in love with an older boy, with big, calloused hands, tall and afraid of losing her, who will call her his golden precious. He will convince her not to become a Ford model or prima ballerina, will want her grasshopper legs to himself and if she’d’ve become a ballerina, he was right, she would’ve left and would’ve had to quit. I would’ve been born to her a different year, with a different father, in a prewar apartment in Manhattan. When she turned 40 she would retire with cracked feet her podiatrist would call worse than an 80 year olds and springtime lungs, fh 31
and we would move out into the sun, hot enough to blister and I would snap the bones back into place and hum Tchaikovsky for her, she would feed me like a cygnet until I was all the way grown, but this did not happen, and so it does not matter. Instead, I wait, and she gives birth to two young men, the first born afflicted by that same curse, little blue-eyed creature, the bright candle in every crowd, he will wear a golden paper crown on his 1st birthday and will be destined for standing ovations, will die on our blue-tiled bathroom floor before he turns 30. It will not matter why, or that he wanted to get clean, or that we only buy the deaths we are sold. It will not matter who manufactured the 12 different types of cancer that start with the letter a, alone, and nevermind the artificially ripened pears, the laugh track and commercial gloss, whose fault this is. It will not matter how she filled the home with sunflowers and could hold her breath a pool-length underwater. All are bound to their parts.
art | alex gutierrez
I do not know if I have what it takes to live past 50, anymore, if I am already unredeemable. I donâ€™t know if I want to.
art | hannah
To smile a silly smile
I cannot know where I will go when sleep comes rolling in so shall I drown in texts? so shall I leave the books unstacked and wear the winter on my skin as plastic printed bags chagrin as flesh on flesh or walrus hacks as idyl thoughts breed idle snacks as idols rot in negligence for chocolate burps or losing sleep I skip back up the steps… O bed, consider me well fed, o healthy hollow hapless mattress my spilling mates are men Their stories come and go in tens of seconds and to thirds of thought t’s not the cracking stuff of yore yet still delightful at my door depressions on the sea-foam pad of mattress mine and tired mind I find that sex eludes my glance or often when I find the chance it dances right around, away so never do I deign to say:— “ought I to kiss you now, today?” my bed, depressed, and oft undressed by feet and toes, so lonely grows for company of different sorts as benches beg for men in shorts to smoke cigars, to play guitars or take to charts for mapping stars and wrap the world around their thumb to pop it like a razzy plum, and smile a silly smile. fh 33
by Jeremiah Sears
grandmother’s drawings by Ethan Resek I have one of my grandmother’s drawings hanging on my wall. A triptych down the highway, done for me before grandmothers or triptychs or memories of gucks on the highway even really existed. (I should probably specify that a guck is what preceded trucks for me. I do wish the magic of that childish word stuck around for the “real” thing though. Hence I maintain: gas stations would fit better if they smelled like fruit roll ups or like when grave roses sit in grass for so long that their scents switch.) I touch the painting when I’m scared. — I don’t actually. Poems are just fickle, lying things, and I don’t do anything. At least it feels like it sometimes. Every time I write in my journal, I write “love yourself ” at the end because I never remember if I truly do or if I just let myself divide into an afternoon, an evening, a morning of Trucks rush by in sepia, and I sit with my earbuds, eyes half closed.
photo | isabella maharaj
art | ma waskow
You are alive, Now. But Now is notoriously fickle, is an incorrigible prankster, is up to no good, and sometimes that rascal called Now will not treat you so kindly, will not set you in such a comfortable seat, will not love you and let you keep learning. Sometimes there is a Now in which you die. It is the slowest thing in the world, to die, and yet it will hit you so quickly. You will know it when that final Now arrives, everyone does. It is a chemical thing, something about hormones, a feeling unique and singular and final and you will recognize it and have mixed feelings because everyone does, because life doesn’t feel like an ending thing, because you will be angry and scared but thrilled, somehow. This is something New. The Newest Now you will ever have known. The mind has a certain inertia, it buzzes, and even if you are blown to smithereens that buzzing does not stop in a single instant, it breaks down, it devolves, and every part of your mind knows that feeling of death to its core and resists, resists, because resisting death is all life knows, and that’s what you are, life. So you will think, and you will live, and you will strive mightily to make your last moments into something. You will remember. The past, the past, your childhood, the feelings of helplessness and wonder, adulthood, grief and insurmountable joy, yourself as it changed, your friends as they changed, your Nows as they flitted in and out of consequence, in and out of memory, in and out like breaths, like breaths, like your last breaths. But you are going Now, you’re dying too fast, and these memories aren’t coming quickly enough to hold it off much longer. There are walls in your mind, rules and paths you have always followed through your nebulous subconscious but they have to go away because this is too slow, and you are alive, and to live is to resist, resist that darkness closing in. The memories transfigure into dreams, into a world of half-thoughts and of feelings. You see your divinity, you speak to your loved ones, you speak to yourself, and you wander and try to make sense of this place. Your lucidity is shot for a while, but then it isn’t, and you seem to wake up without leaving the space of the dream, and you know again that you’re dying, and the dream turns bad, turns bitter, claws at you and you claw at it and the world is getting bigger, bigger, but losing focus. Who knows how long you fight? Sometimes you lose that lucidity again and simply live in that subjective reality, simply breathe and love and have your life there. But then control returns. This is your place and you have power over it but you are so afraid, so lonely, and you crave the return to that dreaming stupor where your subconscious has the reigns and you can forget, forget, your coming death.
photo | siddhant talwar
by Hunter Silvestri
now: new Of your physical body, who knows what remains—who knows if a millisecond or a million years have passed—here, you are timeless and finally know, finally realize, finally read the fractal patterns surrounding you and join conscious with subconscious. You follow the world that your mind creates down, down, finally embrace that final flight and push yourself toward the smallness, toward the last remnants of light, and at the bottom something is created. I don’t know what. I don’t know if you’d last in there—the moment is so brief, the light so dim. But maybe you find something New: the Great Subjective, the billion other glimmerings, the life. Or maybe you just imagine you do. But by then you’ve escaped Now. I think there’s forever over there.
Keep at it on our tandem bicycle with cubes for wheels. Each thrust a crank, and you cry at how much it hurts your ankles. Each sore spot, you shed a petal till all your petals tire— marked by the pedals I’m sorry that the stem of your body is the afterparty I never went that the stem of your body slender leans to another sun blinding me. I lose control we drift as the honking car wields its hat at us red. You gather up the petals in a black bag triple-knotted thrust onto I-90 in Brownian motion shredded by rounded wheels going about in their rounded ways passing cubes in the passing lane. There’s a rhythm in rush these days. Stop and breathe and look around you said at the distant streetlight pulsating in threes at the blackbirds perching from the roof shingles cocking their heads at the painted sky threaded in a circle embroidery dashes and crumbles of this world like freckles on your arm you simply hop off, reaching out at the scented speckles, the dew rests gently on your dimples. Dawn is coming, open your eyes; dawn is coming, open your eyes. fh 37
There is a truth and it’s on our side by Nasrin Lin
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