Undergraduate Literary Magazine Manhattanville College Purchase, New York Spring 2016 Edition
MASTHEAD Editor-in-Chief Gabrielle van Welie Co-Editor Victoria Santamorena Fiction & Poetry Emelie Ali Emily Behnke MarĂa Gabriela Caram Alexis Garcia Jasmine Hernandez Allison Malaluan Katherine Matuszek Danaleigh Reilly Rebecca Ribeiro Katherine Shkreli Jordan Winch Art & Photography Kaitlyn Angley Dylan Ward Faculty Advisor Patrick Redding Printed by The Sheridan Press 450 Fame Avenue Hanover, Pennsylvania 17331
FROM THE EDITOR Dear readers, I am pleased to present you with Graffiti’s Spring 2016 edition. This year has been one of tremendous renovation for us. For one, the book you are currently holding is now an inch wider than its predecessors, and its pages come with a professional, matte finish. These changes were made in the hopes of taking what has become the most popular and wide-read publication on campus and giving it the look and feel it, and you, deserve. Whether or not our 2015-2016 goal has been achieved is left at your discretion. This year, we have also taken a step towards selectivity to one, publish only the best work Manhattanville has to offer, and two, ensure that being published in Graffiti remains a priviledge and an accomplishment. This means that our editing process has been more extensive and rigorous than years prior. For sticking through it with me, I thank my staff. I also want to thank Professor Redding for serving as our advisor this year and volunteering to run our editorial workshop, Professor Fasano for co-hosting our first Poetry Gala, as well as the rest of the English department for always making Graffiti a priority. Last, but not least, I want to thank all of our applicants and our readers. You make this magazine possible. I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve as Graffiti’s editor-in-chief and can only hope to have served it well. I leave you in Victoria Santamorena’s able hands. Happy reading, Gabrielle van Welie ‘16
12 ........ Body Dumping — Victoria Santamorena 18 ........ Another Perspective — Shannon Gaffney 21 ........ For Sale: Used Plane Ticket — Katherine Matuszek 24 ........ The Red Menace — Caleb P. Crocker 29 ........ Beehive — John J. Bonelli 36 ........ Room 34B — Alexis G. Garcia 46 ........ The Wildlands — Caritza Berlioz 50 ........ La Casa — Krystalina Padilla 59 ........ Live Frogs — Allison Stacey Malaluan *
70 ........Peck’s Lake — Lauren Lodato 71 ........ Trapped — Katherine Shkreli 72 ........ Phoenix — Krystalina Padilla 73 ........ Serenity — Alexandra Risko 74 ........ 18°W & 69°N — Gabrielle van Welie 76 ........ Twilight — Katherine Shkreli 77 ........ Take Me off the Shelf — Lauren Lodato 78 ........ A.J. (Brother Black) — Emelie Juliana Ali 79 ........ Christmas Eve — Krystalina Padilla 80 ........ Iscariot — Victoria Santamorena 82 ........ Fiend in the Night — Katherine Shkreli 84 ........ Let Me Be Your Lyrics — Lauren Lodato 85 ........ A Letter Unsent — Waad Hassan 86 ........ The City Where the Sheep Never Sleep — Jordan Winch 88 ........ Unsolicited Advice for the Girl Who is Still Waiting for Him to Save Her — Melissa Gargiulo 89 ........ Down by the River — Katherine Shkreli 90 ........ Forever My Playground — Lauren Lodato
NAVIGATION 92 ........ Maybe — Emelie Juliana Ali 93 ........ For Judas — Victoria Santamorena 94 ........ Lys — Adriana Segura 95 ........ Discover — Lauren Lodato 96 ........ Defense — Melissa Gargiulo 98 ........ American Dream — Krystalina Padilla 100 ........ I’m Not a Lover — Jordan Winch 101 ........ Blood Moon — Melissa Gargiulo 103 ........ Dollhouse — Lauren Lodato 104 ........ Winter Came Quickly — Emelie Juliana Ali 105 ........ The Lost Chapel — Krystalina Padilla 106 ........ Dream Catcher — Alejandro González 107 ........ Novel — Michaela Murdock 109 ........ Stains of Purity — Shannon Gaffney 110 ........ Epilogue — Emily Behnke 111 ........ Darling Judas — Victoria Santamorena 112 ........ I Spent the Years After You Forced Yourself on Me Looking for Comfort — Adriana P. Segura 114 ........ Epilogue — Michaela Murdock 115 ........ Orchestrated — Allison Stacey Malaluan 117 ........ Defining Myself — Adriana P. Segura 119 ........ First Morning Without You— Lauren Lodato 120 ........ Beside the Stone — Michaela Murdock 122 ........ Young Fire — Samantha Jean Rice * 123 ........ Energy — Samantha Jean Rice * 124 ........ How We Learn to Love — Samantha Jean Rice *
AbtrActs & essAys
128 ........ Johnson Cigar Club — Emelie Juliana Ali * 129 ........ Things Men Should Not Do: Mad Science in the Films of James
NAVIGATION Whale — Danaleigh Reilly * 130 ........ I May Well Be a Jew: Representations of Jewishness in Sexton and Plath — Victorian Santamorena * 131 ........ On Edgar Allan Poe’s Borrowed Architecture and Its Complexities — Phuong Le * 132 ........ The Once-and-Future Wales — Gabrielle van Welie
17 ........ Clarity — Victoria Santamorena 23 ........ The Champion — Bridget C. Coulter 28 ........ Family — Aliyah Oestreicher 35 ........ Untitled — Alejandro González 43 ........ Snow Day — Aliyah Oestreicher 49 ........ Fragments — Alexandra Espinal 58 ........ Untitled — Brianna N. Barrett 67 ........ Lizard — Aliyah Oestreicher 75 ........ Untitled — Breanne Post 83 ........ DOF — Aliyah Oestreicher 91 ........ Untitled — Brianna N. Barrett 99 ........ Stairs — Khalea Baker 108 ........ Untitled — Brianna N. Barrett 113 ........ Flower — Alexandra Espinal 118 ........ Untitled — Breanne Post 125 ........ Audrey Hepburn— Christina L. Modica 135 ........ Untitled — Krista Escaffi-Aguilar 134 ........ Contributors List On the Cover: Lucille - Victoria Santamorena * Winners of departmental English awards
FICTION “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” - Stephen King
Body Dumping Victoria Santamorena It is Sunday morning. The phone rings. Why doesn’t he answer it? He approaches the menacing black phone as it screams in its bed, rattling like some mad, jumping thing in its cradle. “Hello?” He asks. He is nervous. A voice crackles on the other end of the line, wispy like smoke and just as elusive. But he knows better. Hector, if he were to try hard enough, could catch smoke. He could recognize it and identify it by its color and smell. He listens for a voice. “Hector,” she laughs, “don’t you know who’s calling? Don’t you know why?” He hangs up because his wife could be listening. He hangs up because, to him, this is some big joke. He lowers the phone back down again, his hand shaking. He can’t get the laugh out of his head. It is an eldritch laugh and it feels heavy inside him, as if it germinated there. He knows who it is, that cackle is familiar. He knows her laugh. Is he dreaming? Didn’t he leave her there on the sidewalk to die? Why is she calling him? Isn’t she dead? She is a body on the pavement now, her face as tearful as Bernini’s Proserpine, stained in frozen death-marble. But she is not crying, not anymore. She is stiff and rigid, yet her skin is as white as Carrera, as artful as the oeuvre of Baroque masters who created supple tension in the flesh of their masterpieces. There is nothing protecting her from the elements other than the aura of death, the sheer sight of blood, the notion of decay. No one will touch her. In this protective atmosphere, her figurative tomb, she is happy. She is happy to be in the glass coffin. There, the outside people can’t touch her. I am happy dead, she tells herself. Yes, she thinks, dead is better. I’m glad he killed me. Knife to the eye, knife to the heart. And it looks like she is smiling, even with the blood spilling from her fresh wounds. She is splayed on the pavement, broken. She thinks, I am his doll. His everything. Last night, under the bridge by the river, we listened to the sounds of boats as they drifted beneath glittering stars. He kissed me. Hector, I always knew it would be you. You would let out my secrets when you tore open my mouth. Rip it right open, I told you. I asked you to take your hands and tear me in two. I dared you. I told you I would be flooding inside, full
Graffiti of thick, black decay, and when I opened my mouth, all this darkness would come spilling out. I tried to tell you. I tried to warn you. But you kept kissing me. I told you that the muck would squeeze out any orifice it could. It started dripping from my eye. It fell onto the ground and made a mark like a little black hole. And now I’m dead. I bled out on some city sidewalk and now I’m dead. Hector, she thinks as she waits in the in-between. This isn’t a dream, but haven’t you been dreaming of me? We wear such pretty masks, Hector. As she waits for some sort of oblivion, she thinks of her grandfather. She thinks of herself as human waste. She sees herself as an unceremonious, infernal body dumping. Another broken ideal. She lies on the pavement and she does not move. If she could, she would smile. Wouldn’t grandfather be proud of me? She remembers watching grandfather swallow pill after pill. She is small then, ten-years-old then. She watches him drink the glass of tap water in one huge gulp. Bony and wrinkled hands grip the sides of the white porcelain sink. He stares into the mirror – the water from the faucet drip drip dripping, counting down the minutes as it waits for the pills, as it waits for grandfather to decide. She watches him button his neat, dark suit. His long, red nose seems redder now, as if he had caught a cold. Could chicken soup cure it? She wonders. His cold, blue eyes are more watery than before. Is he crying? How will he die? She asks. Will he cry himself to death? Will he miss me? His wrinkles – twisted up and mean – are deceiving. The meanness is only temporary. He only looks that way when he cries. Where is your rich, deep laugh, old man? Your stories, God, where are your stories? Two days before, he stopped telling them. The nightly bedtime ritual, she fears, is gone forever. He stopped coming by her bed to kiss her pink cheek. He didn’t whisper, “I thank my lucky stars for you.” Not anymore. The pill bottle is empty by the sink and grandfather is shaking. He has his pocket watch in his hand, counting down the minutes. He hopes it will not take long. She watches, wondering when she will see him again. She watches, wondering if he will die. She clutches the door frame, remembering the photographs
Body Dumping in the drawer of his nightstand – the handsome young man with his hair neatly coiffed and smiling friends clustered around him like happy bees. She wonders why he was smiling then, why he doesn’t smile now. After all the pills, he doesn’t die. They aren’t enough to kill him. He sleeps for three days and wakes up, good as new. He is reborn. But she sees a change in him, in his eyes. They are colder, much colder, like steel in winter. She is sixteen now, crying in the same bathroom where three days before grandfather blew his brains out. Mother won’t sell the house. Mother won’t get off the couch. Mother won’t do anything. I wonder why we are full of so much blood. She thinks about herself. She can’t think about grandfather. She feels as if she is fog, as if she is slipping through her own hands. That’s how intangible she is – that’s how the darkness spreads. She looks in the mirror because she is frightened. Her face is numb; she cannot feel it move and she thinks that she is blind in her right eye. She hasn’t been able to see out of it for three days, not since she tried things with a knife in the tub. The world isn’t color or shapes anymore. Her own body has betrayed her and the mirror offers no comfort, no relief from the distress of disfigurement and decay. She is painfully aware that the numbness is psychological. She doesn’t want to feel her face, doesn’t want to be attached to it. Her body rejected it, removed whatever feeling was there. Disassociation, she knows, won’t do her any good. Her reflection is painful and obvious – the scars from her accident stretch around her right eye like cracks in a wall. She imagines her right eye is missing – a black hole in her face. But she won’t wear an eye patch to cover the abnormality. She must be real and raw, no matter how much her stomach churns in disgust or despair, no matter how much others will whisper or cry. She has to touch her face to convince herself that she is real, as she must do with most things. Most things do not exist before her fingers grace a surface or contaminate it. Without confirmation, nothing is certain. She tries to smile, although smiling is painful – like ripping skin from bone. She has no cause to smile. Violence took her beauty and replaced it with ugliness – replaced it with a madness she cannot shape. Her
Graffiti hands, like grandfather’s, grip the sides of the porcelain sink. The faucet drips and keeps dripping as if its sound came from inside her head. “Be quiet,” she demands. “Be still.” The world does not obey her commands. The room – white and boring and plain – spins and tilts. She cannot be sure which action it performs exactly. It has been so long since she was certain of anything. She tries to focus on the mirror, the truth of its reflection and what that reflection means. “Who are you?” She asks herself, afraid for the first time. She feels as though she is wearing someone else’s skin. She feels like she stepped inside of it, too snug in some places, too roomy in others. She looks at the mirror, expecting someone else to be there. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I am not myself.” She is unsure of who she is talking to, if it is the emptiness or the space she feels inside herself. Is it righteous to bear so much pain? Is it right to carry all this darkness? The longer she looks into the mirror, the more her headaches. It gets tighter, pounding from within. The left eye, the one good eye, blurs. Everything turns black and she knows the world that she constructed inside herself is begging to come out. All the blackness she holds threatens her body. Its recesses are infinite. She shakes – hands clench the sink, tighter, tighter. She feels as though her flesh will tear apart – it cannot contain the vastness of sadness, anger, despair. Each wave of darkness feels like some little nipping thing, trying to push and claw its way out of a hollow cocoon. With each push, the cracks widen, deepen. She feels more broken than before. She cries, gripping the sink tighter. “God,” she says. “God, I hate my reflection.” She tries to quiet her sobs, choke them back into the abyss inside her, but something shakes her. She remembers grandfather. She remembers what made her this way and she wakes up in the witching hours of a Sunday, lips pressed against Hector’s. He draws her closer to him, her whole body tangling around his like a question mark; after all she is some great mystery to him. He has to tear her open. A boat passes by and she thinks she is dying. She hears its
Body Dumping blaring horn above all other things and can no longer feel Hector’s kiss. She sees nothing, not the city lights that illuminate the night and not Hector’s image, made monstrous as Hades by shadow. As if she were Proserpine, he grabs her, thinking only of Sunday afternoon and the truth he cannot tell his wife. He grabs her and she screams, thinking only of photographs, pill bottles, and death. She shrieks, “Hector! Don’t you know what they’ve done to me? It hurts and I think I’m dying.” He doesn’t care. Something about the shadow – of the night – takes hold of him. He looks at her, at this woman beautiful as a statue, beautiful as an ideal. He wants to break her, to hack her to bits, to destroy her. He lunges with animal force and all goes black. She does not scream anymore. She is a body on the pavement now, her face as tearful as Bernini’s Proserpine, stained in frozen death-marble. But she is not crying, not anymore. I am happy dead, she tells herself. Yes, she thinks, dead is better. I���m glad he killed me. Knife to the eye, knife to the heart. And it looks like she is smiling. Aren’t you proud of me?
Clarity - Victoria Santamorena 17
Another Perspective Shannon Gaffney Jenny was so beautiful, and it was boggling, that I was presumably the only person in love with her. She had the warmest smile, but it never looked like she was trying too hard, and long blonde hair, in a wild set of curls that she tied up sometimes in a scrunchie. She was always laughing, having fun, and making people happy. She was the kind of girl who made me feel like an adult, and then made me embarrassed at how much of an adult I was being. I always tried to play it cool, but I knew she was too good for me. I was with her at that diner in Ridgewood, where we had grown up together, and had ordered French fries every Sunday for the past year. I had taken her there for our first date-- her, fifteen, me sixteen-- and we couldn’t stop talking. She seemed nervous today though. And when I found out why, I nearly choked on my diet coke. “Jesus Christ,” I said. “You’re…what? I mean, fuck, are you sure?” She kicked me and looked around, and I instantly felt guilty. I hadn’t meant to react like that, but wow….a kid? I didn’t even know what I was doing! How was I supposed to help a kid? “I’m pregnant,” she repeated, and I held my breath. “And yeah, I’m sure. Two blue lines and everything. The works. I still haven’t told my parents yet.” Her parents, I thought. Oh God, her parents. They were so conservative. They might throw her out; they might come after me with a gun or something. “No,” I sputtered. “It can’t be. I mean, we always use something.” “It must have been Ray’s party, remember?” she told me. “I left my pills at home and you said--“ “What, you gonna blame me for this?” I squeaked defensively. But she was right. I had told her not to go home for her pills. I thought I could probably pull out in time, so was it even worth the gas? Oh Jesus, how could I have been so stupid? “It was a joint effort,” she insisted. “And I can’t do this by myself.”
Graffiti “So what should I do? I mean, are you keeping it?” “Well, I feel like I need to,” she said. “But, you know-- the people at school will talk.” Instantly, I felt a lump in my throat. People already talked about Jenny. I had had to kick a few asses this year. The way they whistled behind her back, ogling at her boobs, her butt, her legs, like they were pieces of meat or something. I wasn’t sure if she realized how they talked about her. I didn’t really want her to know. “They won’t say nothing,” I assured her. “It’s different for you,” she said. “Boys can’t be sluts.” “It’s been like, a year or something now, Jenny,” I said, trying to be cool, and giving her a smile. “You think they don’t know we been fucking?” “Don’t say it like that. It’s gross.” We ordered hot fudge sundaes, and I couldn’t stop looking at that smile of hers when she thanked our waitress. I hated myself for what I had done to her. “Look,” I said. “I’ll help you. But I gotta know what you need. If it’s money, I’ll take on more hours at the gas station and see what I can do. Maybe sell my car…” “But you saved for that car for three years.” “You’re having a kid, Jenny.” “Don’t be so loud!” “I’m just saying” I said, lowering to a whisper. “It’s a goddamn kid. The car is a car. I’m okay with selling it. The thing’s a hunk of junk, but I could probably spruce it up to look good. And sell it for a whole lot more than it’s worth.” “Is that really logical?” “Eh, we’re already going to Hell,” I said, and I winked at her. “We’re having a kid out of wedlock. Might as well go all the way.” I finally got a laugh out of her, and everything felt okay again. It was so weird, knowing that someday, there’d be a kid who looked like me, running around. And not just me - but her too. I’d never told Jenny this, but it was something I had thought about a lot-what it would be like to have a family with her. Not now, of course, but when we were older.
Another Perspective “Okay. Thank you.” She began to cry, and my heart broke. I didn’t know how to fix this, so I just took her hand, helping her not to tremble, and hoping for the best.
For Sale: Used Plane Ticket Katherine Matuszek I It’s an inspiring piece to have on hand, this ticket. Though it has been used and you can’t actually use it to arrive in Dublin, just imagine the other possibilities for it! Just imagine yourself scanning your ticket for the first time. You make the trek through the tunnel and arrive at the gate. You make your way down the aisle and reach Business Class. The journey that you can have is just about to begin when you sit down in row two. II Just as this ticket, and its past owner did, you can explore new lands. The ticket has accompanied the owner down the colorful streets of Dingle, in and out of the small shops scattered down the road. It has seen the oldest churches and colleges in Dublin; passed by ghosts of the oldest castles. It has heard street performers and the laughter shared between friends in pubs while walking through Galway. It has traveled on the left side of a country road, stopping for photos of painted sheep and rocky mountainsides. The ticket was there for the entirety of the trip. The memories that were made are ingrained on the edges and in the ink. The green that lines its top edge expanded from the fields of clover that it witnessed. The bends and tears in the corners were gained from experience. From running out of the airport, trying to stuff it into a pocket, putting it in a shelter, before the rain could tamper with it, smearing the ink and ruining its chances to see things clearly. The rips from when it was stuck in the zipper of the suitcase the next night in the hotel. Those memories could be yours. Just as it holds its past, it could hold your future. Your hopes for a life of travel can be engrained right beside the previous owner’s. The ticket was used on the 11th of July for quite an adventure, and adventure can await you as well. It provided someone their first journey outside the United States. It was the start of something extraordinary—just think of the possibilities for you! This ticket could be the inspiration you
Graffiti need to leave your safe, secluded life and try something new, or even check off a location on your bucket list. The options are limitless. III As you fly all the possibilities and opportunities surround you, you can anticipate the wonders that are yet to come. You glide through the clouds, breaking the pillows of white, all the boundaries that kept you from this trip. Nothing is weighing you down. This ticket is pressed against the new ticket that has taken you away, reminding you of how the old ticket, imprinted with Ireland, inspired you to travel somewhere on your own. While it holds part of Ireland, itâ€™s ready to begin anew. The land grows as you approach it. One that grew from small blurs of color to large, tangible things, illuminating your dreams. The land is true and new to you. A fresh start. A new experience. A return to home. A long-awaited visit. An adventure. You can feel the yearning of the land to just be experienced. Immerse yourself in the land, fill yourself to the brim with the sights and sounds of the place. Enjoy the trip. The ticket can inspire. It holds the reminder of all the opportunities and all the things that still are left to do in the world. It should be used as a vehicle of encouragement. There are still planes and trains that can be caught and walks to take. Just the simplest of things can be the catalyst for something incredible. The ticket is just the starting point for a series of adventures to have. Just think of the possibilities.
The Champion - Bridget C. Coulter 23
The Red Menace Caleb P. Crocker It was about 11 o’clock on a Tuesday night in November. The only place open this late was the Cornerside, a small family diner. Light from the inside poured out of the large plate glass windows and into the street. The last two of Marlon’s regulars were still sitting at the counter, passing the time as they always did. Fred was at the far end with another dame he’d picked up that night, smoking his fourth or fifth cigarette while she toyed with his matchbook. The other patron was a man about Marlon’s age, wearing the same suit he wore every day. Glenn Knight, a police detective, was sitting beside a half full ashtray himself while diligently studying a small notebook. The only sound in the room came from a small radio at the other end of the counter, which had started playing advertisements between songs. Fred and his dame got up to leave once he burned down his last Kool. Marlon wrote the expense on the tab, and began cleaning a glass as the radio turned over to a PSA. The moment the words “House Un-American” made it out of the announcer’s mouth, Glenn spoke. “Turn the damned thing off Marlon. If I hear about HUAC again I’m gonna strangle somebody,” He said, looking none too pleased. “You got it bud. They still giving you a hard time?” Marlon replied as he switched off the radio. “Like you wouldn’t believe. The big boys in Washington have been workin’ us over. They want us to find the ‘Commie Cutthroat’ as fast as possible,” Glenn groaned. “Commie Cutthroat? You mean they gave him a name?” “You bet they did. Idiots. They’re trying to scare up the public more than they already are,” Detective Knight let out an exasperated sigh and took a long drag from his cigarette. He looked through the notes again. A sixth body was discovered earlier that morning. The M.O. was the same as the first five. Two forty-five shots to the chest, and a slit across the throat for good measure. Each body was found with a red star tacked onto his shirt. Whoever
Graffiti was doing the killing was a Communist, and they wanted it to be known. However, with HUAC on a rampage and the government actively turning the public against any red sympathizers, finding anyone with ties to American communist parties was much easier said than done. The department had ruled out the possibility of spies after Washington received a letter from Moscow denying all involvement with the criminal activity. Everyone was surprised to hear that Stalin knew what was going on, but with the killings being so sensationalized it was likely that everyone in a ten thousand mile radius knew at least something about it. Knowing something about it was the least of the department’s problems. The biggest problem was the fear mongering the government was doing. The last thing they needed was someone tampering with the public. But old Washington seemed determined to scare people straight when it came to Kremlin Joe. After all, they had the bomb now, and stood for everything America didn’t. If that isn’t enough to scare someone, then it would take the might of the American propaganda machine to fix that. Knight put down his notebook and ordered a coffee. Anyone looking at him could tell he had a lot on his mind. In fact, this was the third night in a row he’d been the last one in the diner. He crushed out the cigarette and opened up the box to light another, but found it empty. With a grumble, Knight crushed the package in his hand and tossed it down the bar. “I take it life on the homicide desk ain’t what you expected?” Marlon asked as he gave his friend his coffee. “I didn’t think I’d get the toughest case in the last five years as my first assignment if that’s what you’re asking,” Glenn answered, taking a sip. He returned to the notebook once again. The few leads they had were drying up. Most of the names had turned out to be aliases for Communist sympathizers who had conveniently vanished when Senator McCarthy began his tirade. Of the last three possible leads, two of them had shipped out to Korea in July, and the third was deaf from his time as an airman over Japan. Glenn wanted to scream from all of the stress, but decided that the best way to get over it was to crack the case wide open and finally solve it.
The Red Menace “Is Mary gettin’ mad about you staying out this late every night?” Marlon asked. “Nah, she understands. She keeps pretending she’s fine, but I know she ain’t. We’re both worried sick about Donny,” Glenn replied with a heavy sigh. “Aw, the boy’s just doing what he thinks is right. We went to war, our dads went to war, hell even your granddad fought the Confederates,” Marlon said, trying to comfort his pal. “I know, I know,” Glenn said, thumbing through the notebook. “I just wish he’d had the chance to risk his neck for something that mattered. None of those boys need to be dying just because some gooks want to buddy up to the reds.” “Careful where you say that. We don’t need people thinking the detective on this case is a Commie too,” Marlon warned. “I don’t need any lip from the guy who quit before he got off the beat,” Glenn replied, ribbing his friend. “The old man willed me the diner. I can’t just disrespect his last wish,” Marlon said. Knight took another sip of his coffee and reread the notes for the hundredth time. If anything was hidden in there, any patterns or details that could be useful, he was determined to find it. He looked at every date, reread every description of the bodies, and went over every testimony of the witnesses he had, but nothing jumped out at him. “Say, when was the first murder anyway?” Marlon asked. “Late September.” Glenn replied. “You think the guy might be against the war?” Marlon offered. “How do you mean?” Glenn asked. “MacArthur invaded in September, remember? Maybe the guy you want is against the war. The papers say that each of the victims was in the army.” Marlon explained. “Jesus, Marlon. That’s...actually a pretty smart conclusion.” Glenn said. Knight couldn’t believe how stupid he’d been. The entire department had overlooked a detail that he normally would have picked up on
Graffiti in seconds. There was no way that the timing of the murders was a coincidence. It was definitely related to Korea somehow. Marlon was right, every man killed so far had been in the army within the last ten years. Whoever was responsible for the murders had definitely done his homework. But that also opened a door for a new set of questions, mainly how the Commie Cutthroat knew who these guys were and where they lived. None of them were particularly open about their time in Europe. They were all in command positions, and didn’t really like talking about how they got there. Glenn had known two of them from his time as a captain during the Ardennes Offensive, though it wasn’t too personal. The only friend he still had from the army was Marlon. “I can’t believe that slipped my mind,” Glenn lamented. “Don’t take it too hard. Like you said, nobody cares about this war,” Marlon said, idly polishing a glass. “You’ve got a point,” Glenn said with a soft chuckle. “And you may have just helped me solve this case.” “What else are friends for?” Marlon said with an exaggerated smile. “You’re a life saver. In more ways than one,” Glenn responded. “Yeah, yeah. Now will ya hurry up and pay? It’s nearly midnight and I want to go home.” Marlon urged. “Hold your horses, will ya?” Glenn said as he fished out his wallet. Knight tossed two dollars on the table, and stood up to leave. He tucked the notebook into his suit coat and headed for the door, only to be stopped by his friend. “Glenn, your bill was only seventy five cents,” Marlon began. “The rest is a tip. You’re helping us beat the Red Menace.” Glenn responded with a smile. Marlon smiled, and waved as the detective left. He turned the radio back on as he began washing down the counter. A song by The Ink Spots came on: I Don’t Want to Set The World on Fire. Marlon hummed along as he reflected on his day. While he hoped that nobody would actually set the world on fire, he looked back at the door. He knew he’d done just that for an old friend, and smiled one more time. “You did good, Marlon. You did good.”
Family - Aliyah Oestreicher 28
Beehive John J. Bonelli The alarm was so loud. A piercing screech that took me out of my beloved dream about moving out of New York City and into the sunsoaked strip of land called Florida. But since this was only a dream, I remained in my hole-in-the-wall apartment in the Bronx. Lying down, I reached my 52-year-old hand over my alarm clock and slammed it down, causing it to shut up. I looked over at the alarm clock to see if I had broken it. What caught my eye instead was this small rectangular black box right next to it. It sort of reminded me of a coffin. This is where I put all my spare change and other garbage that I don’t care about. My daughter gave it to me two weeks before she died at the age of 15. Cancer grabbed her soul and dragged it straight up to heaven. This is the death that left me alone as my wife died in a car accident five years before that. I felt cheated by life. I got my grumpy self out of bed and walked to the bathroom of my lonely, empty apartment. I lived alone in this disgusting place for ten years after my girlfriend left me for some other guy who lived in the other sun-soaked strip of land located on the other side of the country called California. I stepped out of my apartment complex with a gross expression on my face as I took in the smell of trash and disgustingness that flooded the compact streets of the Bronx. I walked to the stairs that led up to the platform of the elevated train. The very same train that wakes me at least twice each night, since I am probably able to piss on it from my apartment window. I get to the top of the stairs and about 15 people turn their heads to look at me. Great I love people. People suck. Especially the strangers who enjoy striking up a conversation with you when you don’t want to strike up anything. Whenever I get into one of those situations, I nod and pretend I care about whatever they’re taking about. And then I make an excuse to get up and go somewhere else to avoid an endless conversation about how their cats eat their own feces. I just don’t care. The train for Grand Central arrived and I boarded it. I work in Manhattan. I actually like Manhattan because it seems
Graffiti alive and people are busy doing work and mostly don’t bother you with pointless conversation. The ride to Grand Central was quite short since I fell asleep. I was knocked out. I still don’t know how the heck I wake up just in time to get off when I fall asleep on the train. Maybe someone wakes me up, or my mind is like “Yo, dude. Get up before you miss your stop.” It’s all very weird to me. I get off the train and buy myself a bagel and an orange juice from a Dunkin’ Donuts located right outside one of the entrances to the station. My daughter loved orange juice and my wife loved bagels. They would eat them 365 days a year every single morning, ever. The entire Earth could be up in flames that morning and they would still be at the table eating bagels and drinking orange juice. That was their thing. Now it’s my thing every morning to remember the two people I cared about most in this ugly world and now they’re gone. But I must keep going; I can’t be a loser and quit life. I’ve been at it for too long. Things will get better and I just have to be patient. I work at a hot dog stand a block away from the gorgeous Central Park. The green trees sway in the breeze of a beautiful afternoon. White puffs of beauty and peace float in the bright blue sky. To me, Central park is the best, most beautiful part of the concrete jungle that is Manhattan. I start my 20-block walk from the terminal to Alberto- the guy I share the stand with. We swap shifts during the week since only one person can run each hot dog stand at a time. The stand is open 24-7 so there are about six people in total that work it each week. The sidewalks are filthy and smell pretty bad, although not as bad as where I live in the Bronx under the El train. As I walk I look down at the sidewalk. I look at all the trash littered on the ground. Plastic bags, candy wrappers, fast food, coffee cups, you name it and it’s on the ground. The only time your nose isn’t dead of stench is when walking by a food stand. Whether it is roasted nuts, halal food, hot dog, or pretzel stands, your nose is in a safe smell zone. My favorite street food to smell is the honey roasted nuts. I don’t know what it is. That sweet honey glaze with the sugar is just incredible. Anyway, I was arriving at the stand to take the shift until eight
Beehive o’clock. I see Alberto in his red and yellow stained apron. I see the lineup of cold refreshing drinks for sale on top of the weird window thing that looked into the cooler. I see that huge blue and yellow umbrella that tells the people of New York “Hey! There’s a hot dog stand here! Come and chow down on some delicious meat sticks!” There weren’t any customers at the stand, which made for a smooth transition of shift. Alberto didn’t say much to me. In fact he didn’t say anything at all. He just took his stuff and hit the road just like Jack. I didn’t know much about Alberto. What I did know is that he once tried committing suicide. He tried to hang himself in his apartment, but failed. His neighbor found his unconscious body and called the authorities. He was on suicide watch for a couple of months before they let him go. He is a weak man; about as old as me but lacks the will to live for reasons I can’t explain because he never talks to me. I put on my apron and flip the hot dogs on the grill. I’m in business. I replace the melted ice in the cooler with new ice to make the cool drinks in the cooler more cooler. Cool. It was noon and I had eight hours to go. I looked down the street at central park. Those trees swaying in the breeze, the white puffs floating in the blue sky like tissues in a pool. Wait, why would tissues be in a pool? Anyway, it was already four o’clock and I haven’t even had one customer come up to my stand asking for a delicious hot dog. Alberto obviously had a lot of customers because his apron was filthy, while my apron was as white as Walter before he started selling drugs to support his family. Five o’clock. Six o’clock. Not a single customer. I had two hours left in my shift. I’d already burned through countless wasted hot dogs. I stood there looking at all the black and yellow cabs zipping around like a bunch of bees. I must have seen close to about 600 of those cabs alone in my six hours standing behind this grill today. About eighty percent of the vehicles I’ve seen today have been those bright yellow cabs with black writing on them like stripes on a bee. The whole city was like a beehive with thousands of those little cars buzzing throughout the city, working. But here I am trying to work, with no progress. I was not a bee.
Graffiti I was worthless. It’s ironic how lonely I felt standing here with all of these people around me; standing in the middle of a city with eight million bees buzzing about. But I wasn’t one of them. It made me feel left out. It made me feel angry. It started to rain. Those white puffs in the sky turned black in a dark sky like a piece of fecal matter floating in a pool of less dark, more liquidly fecal matter. The clock turned to seven. One more hour to go. The rain was stronger than Hercules on steroids. Not one customer. This had never happened to me in my entire hot dog selling career. Finally, I see a man in a fancy black suit and a yellow tie holding a briefcase. He was crossing to my side of the street, looking at the huge blue and yellow umbrella attached to my grill. He had a look of urgency on his face. As he walked closer to my position, I noticed a red and yellow stain on his dark black suit. I didn’t think much of it because what matters to me is actually having a customer today. He slowly approached my stand. It felt like it took three years for him to cross that street and walk up to me. Everyone else seemed to not even notice the stand with its huge blue and yellow umbrella when passing by busy with his or her own personal and professional lives that, without question, were better than mine. He was standing inches from the cart. “Hello, can you give me a napkin please? He said, seemingly in a hurry. The words entered my ears and sent a feeling of rage through my brain and eventually through my body. “A napkin?” I replied shortly. “Yeah, I spilled ketchup and mustard on my suit from a hot dog I ate earlier and I’m in a rush so can you please hurry up?” Unlike most other hot dog stands, the napkins for this stand were kept underneath the grill, so the customer must ask the man behind the grill for a napkin. “Ok.” I said as I squatted down to retrieve a few napkins for the man. I couldn’t believe it. The one guy who actually approaches the stand asks for a napkin. The rain was starting to pick up. Each drop was louder and louder. I looked at the brown napkins under the grill. I felt a
Beehive jolt of anger throughout my body like a shock of electricity. My hand did not touch the napkins. I was far too angry. I felt alone. I was depressed. I stood up, looked the man in the face and slowly took a step out from behind the grill. I walked up to the man. I stared deep into his soul as my fist made contact with his face. Everyone around us froze. The rain has gotten even louder, the clouds darker. As he stumbled back, his black dress shoe stepped on a white Dunkin Donuts wrapper, the ones they put the bagels in when you order one, lying on the filthy sidewalk. His other heel kicked backwards a small empty bottle of Tropicana orange juice. His brown leather suitcase dropped to the wet sidewalk next to the bottle and the wrapper. I punched him again, and again. He couldn’t do anything but stagger and accept my fists penetrating his face. The rainwater caused the blood on his face to run off his chin onto his suit. Now he really needs a napkin. The extreme anger was still alive in me. I gave this guy a vicious shove. A shove in a direction that was very deadly. This shove sent his black shoes off the sidewalk, over different types of white and yellow lines, into the street. He was in the middle of the street. He was unaware of where he was as he stumbled and staggered in a random direction in the street until I heard a sound. A thump. The man had been stung by a bee. A very large, yellow bee with four wheels and black stripes made of phone numbers of taxi companies and gentleman clubs. The man was on the ground not moving or breathing. A pool of blood surrounded his dead body as parents shielded the eyes of their children. The heavy rain poured relentlessly on the mans black suit and yellow tie. The man was dead and I had killed him. He will need something. Not a brown napkin to wipe off mustard and ketchup from his suit, something else. Something he can be laid to rest in. Something very similar to the small black box that sits next to my alarm clock. The one that my daughter had given me two weeks before cancer grabbed her soul and dragged it up to heaven. The one that reminds me of a coffin. The extreme anger was replaced with overwhelming guilt and self-hatred. There’s no way in heck I’d be able to live with myself after this. Ever. It wasn’t long until I saw the red and blue flashes and heard the screeching sirens of police vehicles. My sad soul had nothing to live for.
Graffiti Life will only get worse from here. If there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, why continue through it. This is my breaking point. Before long, police surrounded the area and the street was closed off. It continued to pour and the clouds looked no lighter than before. Multiple ambulances were parked near the dead body of my victim. I walked up to a police officer. He was facing away from me with his arms crossed. I stood silently behind him and extended my arm to his hip. I grabbed the jet-black handgun from his holster. I’ve never held a gun before in my entire 52 years of living. This was the first time. I stepped back with the black gun in my hand as the officer whipped around to face me. I quickly held the gun up to his face. He froze. Other officers noticed and shouted at me to lower the weapon. I placed my finger gently on the trigger with no intentions to kill. I wanted to leave this awful world. I’m too much of a coward to do it myself. The other officers drew their jetblack pistols. “You have five seconds to drop the gun before I shoot!” Exclaimed an officer to the left of me. “One!” I thought about my daughter eating a bagel and my wife sipping orange juice on a Tuesday morning before leaving for school and work. “Two!” I smelled the burning hot dogs left on my grill when I had abandoned it to attack the man in the suit with the ketchup and mustard stain. “Three!” I felt the cool rain on my forearms. “Four!” I saw the three white dots on the sight of the gun in my hands. Two on each side of the middle one, which was on the end of the barrel. I saw the face of the cop in front of me scared for his life. His brown moustache wet with the unrelenting rain. “Five!” I heard the gunshot.
Untitled - Alejandro Gonzรกlez 35
Room 34B Alexis G. Garcia My throat is particularly dry today. Good thing I brought a bottle of water. After taking a sip of water, my mouth is moist enough to dish out a nice wet one. I watch as the saliva traces over the name Michael. Michael Garibaldi, 1972-2014. It’s appropriate. It would’ve been a mockery if it had read “in the loving memory of,” or if “a devoted father and loving husband” had followed his name. As I propped my back up against his tombstone, I recognize Mrs. Franks and her daughter, Jamie, kneeling down beside Mr. Franks’s grave. Jamie’s carrying a bouquet of daises while Mrs. Franks has several “happy birthday” balloons in hand. Well look, we have that in common. Well, except for the fact that the man in this grave ceased to be anything a long time ago. Come to think of it, Michael’s waste of bones are just taking up a valuable plot that could have been used for someone more deserving. I look at the gold watch that Ma gave me on my 17th birthday, swearing to the high heavens that it was from Michael. I’m running a bit short on time. I had promised to always go see Sarah at the same time every day. Not sure if she actually hears when I say this, but I say it anyway. “Happy birthday to you and your father,” Mrs. Franks says to me. My eye twitches at how easily she could refer to him as my father. I wish her late husband a happy birthday and briefly Jamie. “How old are you now?” she asks. “I’m officially a man now,” I say. “Age isn’t synonymous with maturity,” Mrs. Frank says. “Always remember that.” Age isn’t synonymous with maturity, huh? Guess that’s true. Being 42 never did Michael any justice. I force a smile at Mrs. Frank and head to my car. “Right on time as usual, Christopher,” Erin says, as soon as I walk into The Julian Preston Home for Mental Health Support and to the front desk. “Is she ready for me to see her?” Ah, who am I kidding? Erin tells me to wait a few minutes while she goes to briefly talk with Dr. Nelson.
Graffiti I walk over to the mini waiting area and sit down in one of the nice leather chairs. I pull out my phone and stare at the lock screen for a few seconds. It’s a picture of me and Sarah. In it, we both have an arm around each other in that brother-sister-best friend kind of way. Given everything that she had been through, she managed a genuine smile for that picture. I remember that smile. I miss it. I would take that smile any day over the blank face she wears so perfectly now. I remember that same smile from when I used to throw her down and tickle her. I caught myself gazing into her hazel eyes a couple of times. After a while, she started to struggle underneath my grasp. Her arms went flailing towards me. “Stop!” her voice still vivid in my mind. It got progressively louder and cracked. “Calm down,” I told her. “I’m just tickling you. It’s not that serious.��� I grabbed her wrists and pinned her arms down to the bed, putting more of my weight on to her. She tried kicking me and I finally let go of her. She sat up, with tears in her eyes. At the sign of the first tear drop, I asked what was wrong. She cupped her face into her palms and started sniffling. I ran my fingers gently through her dark brown hair to console her, but she flinched. After she stormed out of her room, I tried following her, getting blocked by Michael. He had appeared from the side of the door. “What did you do to her?” he asked me. “We were just playing around like we always used to,” I said. “You know better than to play like that with her. You aren’t kids anymore. She’s grown tits and you’re at the stage where you’ll get a hard on from just about anything. Just back off. You have to contain yourself when it comes to a body like hers. Got it?” There was a scornful look in Michael’s eyes. His voice was always so stern when it came to me. At that time, I thought it was odd that he paid attention to her changing body. For the rest of my teenage life, all I got were lectures from him about how to conduct myself around my step-sister. I never knew how to convince him that everything between me and Sarah was platonic. But then again, I’ve never been much of a good liar. Dr. Nelson approaches me and I slide my phone back into my
Room 34B pocket. I shake his hand and ask him about Sarah. “Any new updates?” “She is still unresponsive for the most part. When the nurses checked on her, there was some slight eye movement.” “Did she ask about me?” “She still hasn’t been vocal.” I thank him for being honest with me. I would hate for him to sugar coat things for my benefit. So I follow him down the corridor past different examination rooms. We turn the corner and head into the main area where the female patients relaxed. There’s a big screen television against one of the light blue painted walls. There’s a table with magazines, a table with chapter books, and one with board games. I see a blonde woman, who looks like she’s in her early 30’s playing Scrabble with a younger girl. I overhear the woman scolding the girl and try to convince her that “lol” isn’t a word. The girl stays firm with her decision. Next thing I know, the Scrabble board is launched into the air and the letter pieces get scattered everywhere. Once the girl asks me what I’m looking at, I focus my attention back on following Dr. Nelson. Down another long hallway, we turn left and stop at the corner room. Room 34B, Sarah Navato. Dr. Nelson opens the door and we see a nurse combing Sarah’s hair. She is sitting in the same violet polyester armchair. Once the nurse finishes, she smiles at me and leaves the room with Dr. Nelson. “Behave yourself this time,” he says before shutting the door. “Be patient and give her some time. We don’t know how hard she’s fighting.” I pull up a chair and sit in front of her. Grasping her soft hand, I look into her cold hazel eyes. But she’s not looking at me; she’s looking through me. Her blank stare sends a shiver down my spine. They’ve dressed her in a white blouse with a black cardigan over it and beige khakis. It’s somehow déjà vu again. Back when Michael used to pick out her outfits. If only I had known sooner. If only I could have stopped him sooner. The damage was already done. “Why the hell is my father picking out your outfits!?” I remember
Graffiti telling her. “Keep your mouth shut!” she yelled at me. “You’re going to wake up your dad and my mom.” There had been a light brown turtle neck and black jeans laid out on her bed. Stuck to the turtle neck was a post-it note that read: For Tomorrow. – M. I had put two and two together. Sarah was pissed that I walked into her room without knocking. I hadn’t felt the need to knock anymore. As perverted as it sounds, I was hoping to barge in on her changing. Admitting to that made me no better than Michael. I suggested to her that she wear something else. I checked the weather report for the next day and told her how hot it would be. She had no business wearing a turtle neck, unless she wanted to suffocate. She was so adamant about that damn outfit, nearly frantic. “I can’t change my outfit,” she said. “You have other better shirts to wear,” I said, walking to her closet and sliding the door. “I said I can’t.” “That makes no se - ” “I said I can’t!” In the state she was in, she still couldn’t object to someone picking out her clothes for her. She’s here, frozen with a blank expression on her face. I don’t even think she’s aware of my presence; her eyes weren’t looking at me, but looking through me. Most times when she looked at me, I don’t think she ever saw me. She saw someone else. Her face is still so full of innocence. An innocence that she had long forgotten. Her cheeks were cold; with her life slipping more and more away from her. I always wanted to be inside of her head. Like the time her mother got her a nice make up set for Christmas during her senior year. Michael sat in his favorite leather armchair, while I sat on the arm of it. Sarah’s mother grabbed the presents from under the nicely decorated tree. Decorating the tree was the duty of Sarah and Michael. I tried to help put up the lights or whatever else I could, but Michael made perfectly clear that the tree decorating was his and Sarah’s thing. I had the bruise on my wrist for a while from when he gripped it tight after I had reached for one of the
Room 34B decorations. Her mother’s wide grin collapsed after she saw the less than enthusiastic expression on Sarah’s face when she tore the wrapping paper off. For a split second, Sarah had one of those rare genuine smiles on her face. It was wiped away once Michael opened his mouth and crossed his arms. “What are you trying to say to your daughter?” Michael muttered with his condescending tone. “It’s her senior year,” Sarah’s mother said. “It’s for when prom, graduation and any other event happens. Whatever I decide to do for my daughter is none of your goddamn business.” “It is my goddamn business. She’s ours. And you want her to look like some sort of whore, do ya?” While the two of them bickered, I focused on Sarah. Her fingers traced the packaged make up set. Her eyes scanned the contents. I watched as she got up and walked away to her room. I followed Sarah. Just when I got to her door, she slammed the door in my face. Later that night, I went to grab a late night snack. As I walked down the hall, I was in perfect view of my father shoving the make-up set into the garbage. Immediately after, his eyes shot up at me. I flinched. His glare was as cold as Sarah’s is now. That’s where she probably learned it from. “What are you still doing up?” he asked me. “It’s late. You have school tomorrow.” “I’m on break, remember. Don’t you have work?” “Get to bed already.” “Does her mom know you’re throwing out her gift?” “Don’t get smart.” Sarah’s eyes just moved. She’s no longer staring through me. Now she’s looking to the left. I swear I just felt her thumb gently move underneath my hand. I’d give anything to hear her voice again. I want it to erase the memory I have of the last time when words came out of her mouth. Or should I say, were spewed from. I want to tell her I’m sorry. I thought I took all her problems away. But it’s taken me this long to figure out that you can’t erase years of
Graffiti pain with a singular event. You can’t ever hope to get the girl that was lost years ago, especially when she always belonged to someone else. I observe her ponytail and slide the scrunchie off of her hair. It falls down and rests peacefully on her shoulders. I move some of the hair away from her face. There’s safety in a ponytail. It’s reserved. It’s quaint. “Are you going to get all dolled up tonight?” I asked, driving her to
school. “Dolled up how?” she said. “And for what purpose?” “It’s Valentine’s Day. I’m sure you have plans.” “When was the last time you saw me with a guy? Oh, right. Never.” I could never fathom that. She was always such a beautiful girl. She was quiet and to herself most of the time. I wanted to be the only man in her life. I couldn’t. In some way it always felt incestuous. We weren’t even related. But Michael always made it seem like we were. It didn’t matter. She loved another. I’m sure she still loves him. I only call it love because I still can’t find another word to describe it. Love is supposed to be warm and soothing. At least, that’s what they teach you in the movies. Not so twisted that just thinking about it makes my stomach churn. When I picked her up from school that day, I came prepared with a bouquet of white roses. I rolled down the passenger window and held the top of the bouquet out of it. She hesitated to come to the car. After she got in, I handed the flowers to her. “You know I can’t accept these,” she told me, handing them back to me. “Why not?” I asked. “You know why. You’re basically my brother. It’s weird.” “So I’m guessing that going to the movies is totally out of the question?” Later that night, the bouquet was in the garbage. Something inside of me let me believe that Michael was responsible for that. My blood boiled. But despite that incident, I was still oblivious. Sarah’s mother was still fuckin’ oblivious. Even after everything, she blamed her daughter. Her own daughter. Once she disappeared, it was as if she was dead altogether.
Room 34B I kind of wish she was dead. I would never say that to Sarah’s face, though. Everyone needs their mother. I cup Sarah’s cheek in my hand, slowly caressing it with my thumb. I’d give anything to erase her screaming from my memory. She surpassed the term broken and managed to piece herself back together with logical fallacies. How she could have ever loved Michael I will never know. It was a love story that only sickos could enjoy. I thought I could take away her pain. But I only added on to it. There was nothing cathartic about Michael being murdered. It only reopened deep wounds in the both of us.
Snow Day - Aliyah Oestreicher 43
The Wildlands, Excerpt Caritza Berlioz “Come on Diana! I gotta show you this.” Barked Arla at the top of a large snow covered embankment. Diana was slowly trekking up the forest hill. The thick white snow falling from the grey sky and the dense forest area made it hard for Diana to see Arla from a distance. But she could spot out Arla’s blonde tendrils which were peppered with snowflakes as she was bundling herself in a wool cape. “Damn this cold, why did you make me come all the way up here-” “That’s why.” Arla pointed to an old, beaten Kronos spaceship. Wooden vines enveloped it. “I found it the other day when I was scavenging. Can you believe it! Imagine what type of stuff that’s in there.” Arla grabbed onto Diana’s arm, “Come on, let’s go!” Diana looked over to Arla with an earnest look. “I don’t know… aren’t you afraid someone will track us out here?” Arla Smirked. “Don’t worry, no authorities have been here for years so it might as well be ours for the taking. But we still have to be careful, never know if there are any Hornets lurking around these parts of the woods.” They both knew that if another member of their group, Hornets, caught them they’ll be punished harshly for breaking their rules of leaving the city limits without their consent, but Diana did not give it a second thought after she drank in the sight of the ship. She was the first to trail down the hill, carefully watching her every step for any rocks or peeking roots from the towering trees that made them seem like ants. She stopped every so often to look back and see that Arla was catching up to her. Excitement was building up in Diana, she had not seen a whole entire old Kronos model ship ever before. Something we can finally call our own, an escape from the Parantheen slums. The new tech ships called Hyperion were the ones that Diana often saw when she looked up at the sky toward the Capital. They were much larger and were mostly used by the government and the wealthiest humans and Jovians. Diana and Arla walked over to the ship that created a crater on the soft soil. Arla went towards the main port, gliding her fingers over the
Graffiti security screen for entrance placed next to the door. Her fingertips were covered with snow and dirt once she peeled them away from it. “Dee, help me get this open.” Diana was examining the outer surface of the ship. Enthralling herself with the type of missions the people onboard could have done. Maybe it was full of scientists discovering the other life forms for the first time or a pilot who was killed in combat in space and crash landed here. But Arla snapped her out of this trance and Diana went over and helped push the door open. A billowing cloud of dust and dirt struck both of them. As they stepped inside they noticed the dirt and vines that came through from the broken windows. “Finder’s keeper, looser weepers!” yelled Arla as she darted passed Diana to one of the rooms off from the main corridor. The place gave Diana an eerie feeling as she could here the whistling of the wind when she walked down the hallway. She noticed that there were a lot of broken screens hanging off the walls and shattered glass around the place. As she was heading towards the control room of the ship, she heard Arla gasp. Diana ran down the hall and stood at the doorway as Arla’s back was facing her. “Look what I found! Dreses and garments, nothing like I’ve seen before!” Diana ran over to Arla’s side. Her pale azure eyes gleamed at the sight of them. She then looked down to her own garb. Combat boots, dirt encrusted pants, a torn up olive drab shirt and a beaten leather coat and sack slung over her shoulder along with a black woolen cape. I look no different than any other of the people living in the slums, she thought, but with dresses like these I can pass for so much more. All the clothes inside the chest seemed like new to Arla Arla was pressing a crimson dress with a gold threading on her chest. “I look like royalty, from now on address me as Queen Arla!” She gave a twirl as she was holding the dress against her own dirty garments, leaving the beaten cape on the floor. Diana sifted through the chest herself. A long lapis lazuli gown with a small sapphire encrusted right at the bottom of the V-neck line and it had golden lace on the back that ran along
The Wildlands the nape to the waistline. She could imagine herself wearing this at a royal festival. Her hair as dark as onyx caressing her shoulders and her piercing blue eyes complementing the dress as it could catch the attention of everyone in the crowd. Diana looked over her shoulder but Arla was not there anymore. She’s probably in another room… Who could this dress belong to? A princess of some sort? If I leave it someone else could easily take it. Diana delicately bundled the dress up and placed it in her sack. “Finder’s keeper” she whispered as a smile overcame her. She kept going down the main corridor that wrapped around the mission control room. There were a few bedrooms, a dining hall and the bridge, where all the main controls were placed. Diana could hear Arla rummaging through the other rooms but her interest was in the bridge. Diana walked into the room and noticed there were screens that ran along the industrial walls. As she walked towards the front of the bridge, she saw shattered glass on the floor from the windshields. A round table in the center of the room with stationed chairs around it was where the majority of the controls were placed. Diana had experience in mechanical cybernetic systems. Often exploring the junkyards near her camp, fixing up Holographic Portable Screens and any other tech junk she could get her hands on to trade in the slums. Diana went straight to checking out the controls placed on the table. Seems like it was operated by both touch and voice command thought Diana as she wiped off the dirt in front of the main screen. She glided her fingers underneath the table looking for the latch to manually start up the control system. After unlatching the hatch, she scanned over the network of wires and color-coded buttons that directed her on how to turn on the controls. Come on, I know there has to be some juice left in here. After interlinking the frayed wires, a slow hum started up. “Yes! I knew it!” One by one, a group of lights started to flicker on. Diana then closed the hatch and turned on the overhead lights of the entire ship. Arla came in quickly “Did you just get this to work!?!” “Yea, it wasn’t that hard, just had to start it up manually, but I don’t think this has much juice in it to fly or if it could even fly at all.” Arla curled up the corners of her mouth. “You’re good, but not that
Graffiti don’t think this has much juice in it to fly or if it could even fly at all.” Arla curled up the corners of her mouth. “You’re good, but not that good. Just try to see if you can get the main HPS to work.” Arla looked over to the blank screens and she started to power them up as Diana kept on working at the network of wires. Diana was trying to get the holograph system working but it was no use. The whole set broke when it crashed. “Doesn’t seem I can get the HPS to work, but I downloaded the info to my chip.” Diana pulled out her small storage chip from her sack, the size of a coin, and connected it to the dashboard and uploaded the information on it. She then looked out to the broken window and saw the clear sky and the moon illuminating the forest. Something moved towards them in the distance. With eyes squinted, she already knew what it was. No, can’t be them! Diana quickly powered down all the controls and lights on board. “Hey, what’s the matter!” Arla yelled at Diana. “Shut up! There’s someone outside. Get down, we have to get out of here and quick!” “Is it the Hornets?!?” whispered Arla. “I think so, did you tell anyone that you were leaving Arla!” demanded Diana as they crept out of the spaceship. “No, I didn’t! I was with…” “Shhh! We have to get passed them” They already tracked us here and probably saw the lights on. “This way.” Whispered Diana. They went back up the hill but further away then where they first came from. Trying to stay hunched closer to the ground and behind trees, all of a sudden a beast like no other pounced on Arla. It came on so quickly that before she knew it, dark red blood was splattered on the feathery snow ground. The bite of the wolf-like creature was instant and cold. Arla was gurgling on her own blood. It was on her and on all fours it was as tall as Diana. A beast that looked bigger than any wolf she has seen, with sharp golden eyes and fur that had different shades of brown, grey and dark green. As Arla’s blood was draining out of her limp body, Diana grabbed her knife in her sack and swung it at the creature with all her force knocking it to the ground. She repeatedly stabbed the beast, but with no avail as
The Wildlands it too pounced on Diana. She was pinned to the ground and could feel the splitting pain on her collarbone and legs as all the weight of it was on top of her. Diana looked at the beast and it flashed its razor sharp teeth at her. She closed her eyes as if waiting for her neck to be ripped apart and tossed aside like a rag doll but then she felt the rush of warm liquid being poured on her body and the weight on top of her was no more. She opened her eyes and saw the beast lying next to her, with its head cleanly chopped off. A silhouette of a woman stood next to her with a long sword that shined as the moonlight beamed against it. She tried to crawl away but the sharp pains made her yelp out in anguish. Tired, her body and hands were shaking and she couldn’t move. “Oh my god, Arla!” She looked to her left and saw Arla’s lifeless body sprawled against the scarlet snow and her soft curls matted with blood. Diana burst into tears as the woman picked her up and carried her away into the darkness of the forest.
Fragments - Alexandra Espinal 49
La Casa Krystalina Padilla “Sit still, Eileen.” I fidgeted in my chair as my Mami swiftly brushed my eyelids with eye shadow. The broom-like brush swished back and forth, picking up the bareness of my eyes and tinting it with a glittery beige. After, she applied foundation across my face in tiny swirls and blush faintly across my cheekbones. She dug in a jar of Vaseline with her pinky and rubbed it across my lips in a thin coat along with a layer of baby pink lipstick to match my chiffon rose. “Tan linda, mi niña,” she said complimenting me, pecking my cheek lightly. I grabbed the chiffon rose on the bureau and clipped it on my hair above my left temple. I latched it onto a heavy, brown curl and gazed into the mirror. Its watermelon-pink petals beamed across the mirror, enchanting me with its sheen embrace. I could smell the garden it was picked from, the one along the road of Ponce heading to Yauco where you can hear the coqui call to their lovers at night. They say that garden has the ripest fruit and most beautiful flowers because Jesus walked along the soil with his bare feet the night he created the beauty of the world. That’s where my mom got her chiffon rose, the same one I had on then, the day of my wedding. My mom placed her chin on my bare shoulder sprinkled with glitter and whispered her good graces upon me. She told me to breathe, that I’ll be all right because this is my fairytale. But I still felt the ground below me. I couldn’t find the magic in my happy ending. I walked down the aisle with my tongue shoved down my throat. It poked up from time to time, gagging me inside out. All of my family was sitting on the left side of the church, staring at me, the same way I stared at them at their weddings with a keen eye of judgment. I kept my head down for a few seconds until I felt the fire from Mami’s eyes burn my veil to ash. But I couldn’t help it; the white carpet tugged at the wedge of my shoe with its lacey fingers almost tripping me. I wished my dad was there to hold my hand, but he died the year before and I refused to walk down the aisle with anyone else. The heat circulated the air along with the fresh smell of
Graffiti lavender lilies. I could only think about getting to the end of this as soon as possible. I finally made it to the end of the aisle with; one of my biggest accomplishments. He raised my veil gently and smiled in my face, not softly, nor slyly. At first, I avoided looking into his face, hiding from the penetration of his eyes onto mine. But the crowd was watching with eyes of awe, so I smiled with lips of poise. His eyes were average, but from the angle of the suns rays reflecting from the stained glass windows, his eyes painted a smooth hazel, while mine remained chestnut brown. Father Eduardo read slowly, blessing us under the name of the Lord. As he read scriptures and a couple of psalms from the bible, Julian continued to stare at me with his hazel eyes. God only knew what he was thinking. As he stared at me, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Standing in the church, next to the priest, across my almost husband, I questioned my decision to continue the ceremony. “Is this a mistake?” “Do I have any other option besides marriage?” “Can’t I live at home with Mami, Lucito and the rest of the family?” “Was Julian as good of a man Mami made him out to be?” All of those questions chiseled indents in my brain as Father Eduardo’s hot breath swept across my neck as he spoke. I turned my head and looked out to my family sitting on the pews with their hands folded, looking at me up and down in query. Mami flashed a quick smile. I grinned back, exhaled a prolonged deep breath and turned back to face Julian. When Father Eduardo finished his sermon, Julian put the ring on my finger; it’s small diamond holding a heavy weight on my tiny finger. His hand lifted my palm like a feather; each fingertip raised a chill up my arm. The priest faced him: “ Julián Delgado, ¿tomas tú a Eileen Fernández como tu esposa? ¿Prometes amarla, respetarla, protejerla abandonando todo y dedicandote solo a ella?” “Sí,” he responded. Then he turned his head to me. “Eileen Fernández , ¿tomas tú a Julián Delgado, como tu esposo? ¿Prometes amarlo, respetarlo, protejerlo abandonando a todo y dedicándote solo a él?”
La Casa eyelid.
“Sí,” I said, staring into his eyes, withholding a teardrop under my
Goose bumps rose from the bitterness of his palms entwined into mine. When the vows ended, he planted his lips firmly onto mine as my hands rested on his hairy knuckles. The audience rejoiced; my stomach twisted in bulky knots. The energy resonated throughout the room as the church bells chimed outside. As we walked down the aisle, both of our families threw small grains of rice onto our heads. It was delightful, feeling their exuberant energy ascend when we got outside. The attention was awkward, but soothing. I was more uncomfortable by the face Julian had. His face was muzzling an underlying anger; I noticed from the clenching of his jaw and twitching of his eye. Maybe it was the heat outside and the burning of the suns rays; maybe it was the stinging of the grains of rice. We got into a car that took us to his house in Guyama, which was about an hour away from the church. Our reception was to be held at his house because we didn’t have time to prepare for one earlier, nor did Mami tell enough people about the wedding for us to receive enough gifts. “No point in having a reception if there’s no gifts,” Mami had said. Heavy wind blew in through the half-cracked windows, furiously breezing through the ruffles of my dress. I took the chiffon rose out of my hair and held it in my hands, admiring the way the grains of rice stuck lightly to the petals. As we drove on the highway, I gazed out the window and felt the sun flicker against my face as it poked out occasionally from the Palo de Goma trees. Its rays warmed my hands and glistened against the rose petals like paint on a canvas; its pastel color giving life to a dismal background. Julian was at my side, shaking the grains of rice off of his black tuxedo as if they were thirsty termites. He gazed out his window, batting his eyelashes against the heavy breeze surging through the car. He raised his window and sucked his teeth, upset at God knows what. I noticed a grain of rice stuck on his tie. I clipped the chiffon rose back in my hair and reached to take off the grain of rice, but he moved his shoulder abruptly, forcibly putting his brawny hand in my face. “¡No me jodas!” he
Graffiti screamed at me in the car. Veins bulged around his forehead and his face turned red. His hand didn’t touch me, but I felt the force of a smack within the space of his hand and my face. Fury built in him like an erupting volcano, heated with an anger that had no derivation. “Please,” he said, releasing a deep sigh. “Stop.” I gulped and put my head down, withholding my tears and quivering with anxiety. I did not want to seem weak in front of him, nor did I want to seem bold and aggressive. I wanted to maintain my innocence with the same angelic halo I’d worn in the church. So I did. We continued the car ride in silence, staring out our windows, absorbing in the tense energy like parasites. The silence of the car hummed a tune I wasn’t too fond of. It was the tune only a broken record player could play. When we got to the house, everyone greeted us, drowning us in endless kisses with a plate of pernil and yellow rice in their hands. You could smell the pounds of sazón from the front door to the backyard. In between the rummage of wet kisses and tight hugs, I lost Julian. I looked around for him but he was nowhere in sight. I went into the bathroom and didn’t see him; same for the kitchen, until I went into the guest bedroom upstairs where we slept in. The antique fabrics of the room were splashed with a mahogany texture that lit up the room like the first glance of a comet across the night sky. The curtain tassels were gold, hanging at each side, while the bed and dressers were tinted with a glossy burgundy color. There was a guitar in the corner of the room next to closet collecting dust next to the desk where Julian sat, with his arms crossed and his head down. I stood at the door watching him keenly. At first, I thought he hadn’t heard me until he asked me to come inside. I walked carefully towards him as if there were huge cracks in the ground and I had to make it across the room. Nervously panting, the angst reflected in my heavy breathing. I stood next to him, trying to catch my breath; he sat next to me, twiddling his thumbs, unbothered. “Siéntate,” he said, moving to the edge of his seat, making room for me to sit. I sat next to him; my dress overlapped his black pants with its white, floral pattern. He rested his mouth in the palm of his hands then
La Casa lifted his face, “I was married once before, estoy seguro de que sabes.” I stood there silent for a couple minutes; unsure of the reaction he wanted. “’Ello? I know you hear me. ¡Responde!” he yelled, slamming his hand onto the table. I shook to the roar of his voice and pound of his hand against the table. I heard footsteps coming up the steps, then a slight pause. I nodded. “Sí, yo sé.” “Mírame,” he said staring at me. I turned to face him. His eyes were red and had welled up with tears. That was the first time I ever saw a man with tears in his eyes. Not even my brother, Lucito, who was only a year older than me. At twenty, he never cried, not even when Papi died. I would hear him sob in the shower at night when he came home late, sniffling through the splash of the water against his body, thinking nobody heard his silent cries. But I did. We shared a room, sleeping on bunk beds—him on the top and me on the bottom. He would barely come home after Papi died and when he was home, he’d toss in bed every night as if a cockroach was biting him frantically. He knew the pain Mami was in when Papi died; he knew the role he had to uphold as the man of the house. Julian wiped his face quickly and looked back down at the desk. “She was the love of my life; mi reina, mi sol. I know you know already. Don’t pretend you don’t know,” he said. And I knew. The whole campo spoke about it like a front-page newspaper story. She died in her sleep; a “stroke,” the doctors said, after she’d been struggling with a “disruption in blood flow to her brain.” Julian didn’t know she was sick and neither did her doctors, until a month prior when her vision became impaired. He continued to talk about her (in English, too), about how she made him happy, how they met in high school and fell in love like “dos pájaros en un parque.” He spoke about the plans they never got to accomplish, how much his mother loved her, the pain he dealt with when she died, etc. I sat there, mortified. I was a lone plane flying across the moon hoping to see a man with a flagpole, but ended up only seeing its hollow craters. I didn’t say a word. I spent most of the time articulating his English
Graffiti and translating it into Spanish like a historian depicting hieroglyphics on wall , just through his words. His soft words were coarse, cutting me like a blade. At that moment, I wanted to be the one to replace her in the grave. I kept thinking, ‘why me?’ as if I was cursed. But Julian was my husband now. I had to satisfy his needs. I grabbed his handkerchief slowly from his vest pocket and dried his eyes in gentle strokes like a mother soothing her weeping child. “No llores,” I said. Then suddenly without warning, he snapped up and took the handkerchief from my hand without compassion. I felt the malice in his eyes as he looked down at me, tightening his brows together, fighting the dripping tears from his eyes. “I’m not crying!” he yelled, accidentally knocking the chiffon rose from my hair. He folded it back into his pocket and walked out the door without a sound. No trace of him was left except the echo of his voice in my head. After a whole day of talking to the Fernandezes and Delgados about future plans, babies and family gossip, we sat at the dinner table. The table stretched from each side of the room with about thirty chairs for mi mami, mis tias, mis tios, mis primas, mis primos, y todos los demás. Each chair had a white cushion made out of lamb wool (from Julian’s abuelo’s farm, his mom repeated the whole night) to sit on, which occasionally itched if you wobbled in your seat too much. The dining set was exquisite, with white china plates laced with a gold lining around the edges and pink and green floral designs in the center. They were the authentic version of the plates I played with at playtime when I was five. The sterling silver spoons and forks lay on the right side, tucked inside a folded napkin. The food sat in bowls at the middle of the table between lit candles that smelled of apple and clover. The mixture of the candle fragrance and steam of chuletas, arroz y pastellitos made me dizzy. My mouth became watery and my stomach churned to the continuous chatter of Julian and his mom. I tried to reach for a spoonful of rice, but the yellow rice had suddenly become hazy. Some of the family noticed and asked if I was all right, but I lied and said I was. Suddenly, everyone began to move in slow motion with their spoonful of rice and chicken and cups of malta. The room became still like there was a sudden pause on movements. I looked around in a panic, blinking faster
La Casa and faster the more nervous I got, trying to clear my vision. Then, a ringing sounded off in my ears like the church bells at the wedding, vibrating across half of my face, numbing it cold. Then, I passed out. Of course I passed out on my wedding day. I woke up later, much later, around 11:00pm thanks to Julian’s tia, Josephina, who was a nurse at the clinic by his house. I woke up in a cold sweat, feeling the room close in on me. I was in a black nightgown that hung below my knees with long sleeves. I smelled it to see if it had been washed recently, worried it was from Julian’s deceased wife. I felt naked without my flowing wedding gown on. Julian slept at my side peacefully, breathing through his mouth in small, moderate breaths. A trail of drool lined the side of his mouth, staining the pillow with a small puddle. His left arm rested underneath the pillow while his right arm lay above the blanket. I turned around in bed and rested my head on the pillow. My feet poked out from under the blanket, curling to the wind brush against my toes like a night crawler. I cuddled the cotton sheet against my face the same way a young girl rests on her doll’s hair. Julian snickered and tugged the sheets toward him. The sheet scraped my face unexpectedly and left me empty handed, leaving me to embrace the cold breeze against my feet and face. I watched the leaves on the Palo de Goma tree twirl to the motion of the wind, swaying in the air to the dance of the moon’s song. Its white luster brought the only light into the room that night. The next morning, Mami and Lucito brought my bags to the airport. Lucito was wearing his infamous denim jacket. Despite the fact that it had been a present from his ex-girlfriend, Jenny Bonilla, he still wore it because it brought him “good luck.” His hair was slicked back with cheap gel, and his white button-up was ironed so perfectly that I could have sworn Mami had him ironed it. His smile was less convincing, but his eyes were still warm. Mami stood by his side, clutching a small burgundy purse on her shoulder. She batted her long eyelashes to prevent an uncontrollable flow of tears. I assured her I’d be fine, “No llores, Mami. Voy a estar bien.” She responded, “I’ll be fine. It’s your empty presence that might eat me alive.”
Graffiti I hugged her tightly, feeling her thick arms squeeze me to a pulp; the same way she squeezed me my first day of pre-k, when I learned how to write my first sentence and when I first said the English alphabet correctly (without stumbling over the l, m, n, o and p). I inhaled the vanilla aroma on her neck, holding it with me during the flight as my final memento of her. “Te amo, mami,” I said, kissing my mom’s fluffy powdered cheeks. “A ti también, Lucito,” I said to my brother, squirming in his bear hug trying to breathe. Mami hit his shoulder, “Let her go.” She handed me my carry-on bags and hugged me one last time. She laid her hand on my hair, held her cheek next to mine and whispered, “La casa will always be here for you.” She put two fingers on the inside of my wrist feeling my pulse and said, “La sangre es más espesa que el agua”—blood is thicker than water. Julian waved goodbye from a distance to Mami and Lucito and told me to hurry. I felt the air escape my body as I ran toward him, limping with two bags on my shoulders. I turned around and blew one last kiss at them, watching them fade in the distance.
Untitled - Brianna N. Barrett 58
Live Frogs Allison Stacey Malaluan
Winner of the Sister Eileen O’Gorman Prize for Short Fiction
Ceramic frogs aren’t meant to be grounded forever. Nothing in this life is permanent – even seemingly solid, stagnant frogs. Mom croaked today. And collecting frogs was a hobby of hers. I don’t know why. So today I threw her frogs into the whooshing, forgiving air - free and wild for five swift seconds of an eternity because a life can be lived in that time. And these frogs shattered, splintered into green-spotted, black-riddled pieces - sprinkled among us like Mom is to me. ***
Tree branches closely resemble nerve cell bodies. Walnuts look like a human brain. Medusas look like mushrooms. Funny how much we come – we hope – to understand something by describing it as something else. Mom’s death is like a spreading cancer onto the vast Sahara desert. Terminal cancer scattering in the form of relentless showers rooted to dampen and eventually destroy the area drip-by-drip. Only the Sahara desert is vast in its hundreds upon millions of square miles. Nothing can trump the Sahara desert. Wrong. That breathless autumn day where leaves succumbed to color change and split from a sturdy oak tree; that was the day showers prevailed, I dampened, and Mom croaked. ***
To clearly read the name, “A World Away from The World,” was to struggle with sanity – with faith in one’s own vision. The large “O’s” and “A’s” of the front store letters were crumbling. Mom’s favorite antique shop,
Graffiti A World Away from The World, was a block away. Above, a flock of croaking caws were circling the store, as if fencing the perimeter. To keep people out, or welcome them in, I wondered. Away I went; in I came. Solid primary colors coupled with refracting secondary ones illuminated the territory. From the bronze antique lamps to the Victorian frames, everything seemed magical. My eyes caught glimpse of cold-blooded amphibians: beady eyes, stout bodies, white bellies, light spots, dark spots, chopped arms with sinewy limbs. I was looking at them looking at me. A plastic, pull-the-string-for-sound frog landed my attention; it was not in its natural habitat. Pulled the string – I did. It ribbeted; it croaked. At the corner of my eye, I caught the short, pudgy manager fixating his gaze from the store display to me. “How much for this one?” I inquire, holding the tagless, green frog. “Out of your price range,” he replies, shifting his gaze from my stained light jeans to my beat-up black Converse. “You must be joking. It’s plastic.” “I’m not. It’s antique. Quality antique.” “Okay. How much?” I say, my patience dwindling. “One hundred-fifty. Non-negotiable.” “It’s secondhand. It’s plastic.” My index finger strokes the creases outlining the frog’s wrinkles – either constructed intentionally or worndown over time. “Take or leave the one-fifty,” he continues, standing ground. “Is that the best price at a secondhand store?” “One-thirty. Final offer.” “Fine. I’ll take it,” I hear myself say. Why did I need this? It wasn’t ceramic. It was plastic. It was worn-down. It was disposable nearing an expiration date, but the green antique could croak. ***
What we can’t seem to find out for ourselves, we seek out in others. Priests, maybe scientists, but number one are therapists – those presumed to have all the answers. Oh, these unsung heroes. My schedule that Monday read like a malfunctioning cuckoo clock
Live Frogs ticking mindlessly, scrabbling to resurge. Seven o’clock: An unhygienic, self-proclaimed pedophile, painstakingly pouting at his inability to pick up women. Also, written in my mass of scribble: associates what is moral with what is legal. My eight o’clock was a practicing vegan. Scratch that. Now a firm Gandhi-believer taking a stab at wrapping herself up in hunger strikes. I gave her bubble-wrap to vent. Nine o’clock: a recovering vegan. Ten o’clock: a “recovered” alcoholic who did not know the number of months he has been sober. Eleven o’clock consisted of Malfoy from Harry Potter. With an ego perpetually in conflict with any shred of goodness. He was out after a half hour. 11:30: a blur. Twelve o’clock was an actress whose language I cannot quite conjure up the adjectives to describe. Listening to words come out of her mouth is like watching every character she has ever played act itself out simultaneously with the rest. She is the three-time divorcée, the manipulative lawyer, the organ harvester, the sinning Catholic, the cancer-survivor. If she truly is all the roles she claims to epitomize, why the abrupt shifts between first-person and third-person? Even third-person-speaker does not get her own name right each time. One o’clock was a break of recuperation. Two o’clock was the most interesting of that day and the person I can say the least about. Dressed in only secondary colors, he possesses a mind that is a Jackson Pollack painting personified. Three o’clock was a passionate participant for a show on hoarding. She hoards things she deems “essential,” like slides of fingerprints, double strands of human hair, in addition to swaps of saliva of each individual she has exchanged one-hundred plus words of dialogue with. ***
Toby phoned me today, asking how I’m doing, ranting about life, again asking about mine. Voicemail counts as communication. We communicated.
Graffiti Rolling on top of my green-blue bed, I dive into unwashed white cotton. I hear my door creak, an indication of opening. Turning in alert, my squinty eyes meet wide, blue ones. It’s Toby with his whimsical grin and tall stature. “How’d you get in?” My eyes gaze into his. “You need to get out.” He stares. “I did. I had work. I’m fine,” I say, placing both of my arms by my side. “You’re not fine.” “If we’re going by the Kübler-Ross model, I’m doing just fine.” My voice pitched. “We’re going by The Italian Job version of fine.” “What?” “Freaked out. Insecure. Neurotic. And…” Toby pauses. “Emotional. You. Bye.” I sigh. “You didn’t die that day.” His voice is clear and controlled. “Are you sure?” My eyes fold. “I owe you for that time. ” Toby extracts a wrinkled twenty-dollar bill from the inside of his back pocket. He attempts to straighten it. He fails. “You don’t.” He refuses to budge. “I don’t take charity.” “It’s not.” “It is.” ***
What if the dead came to reclaim their lives once a year? What if people had the life expectancy of a fruit fly? What if frogs could live for a single season a year? What if the living, the dead - those in-between - took midnight joyrides in borrowed vehicles? We could chant to our own senseless melody? One could live devoid of change standing still. We pause our lives in accordance with initiated microwave time. Beeping is like tolling - a sense of stopped time, an almost ticking time bomb. To volunteer time away is a measure of humanity. Once upon a time, hospital visits - the mandatory kind and the free-willed ones - preserved sanity. For the latter reason, I took time, time to visit.
Live Frogs Sandy, age 7, has an inoperable brain tumor the size of Jupiter. She writes poems about cells – how her life is like living with just one – a single-celled existence. “Why,” I ask. She’s wired to machines. She can’t breathe without tubes. What’s perfectly natural to her is alien to me. I scan the white room to catch glimpses of her interests. A giant photograph of a unicorn layored atop the background Pandora world of humanoids from Avatar capture my attention. “They’re magical,” she says, and “one day I’ll live on forever in one.” A smile plants on her face and a neutral expression cements on mine. I see the brown, sagging saddle on the unicorn and a wandering rider, who seems to be abandoning that unicorn. The run-down saddle sticks in my mind as I recall a quote I’d read somewhere: “As we age, we’re riding higher in the saddle, seeing more terrain.” Twelve-year old Tommy dons black Beats hugging his ears. He sings a chicken-scratch equivalent of shaky handwriting - the off-key version, “And now it’s only records of my memory - some little thing you gave posthumously - the little things all dragged out.” He notices my gaze. He pauses. “ ‘Missing You.’ Brand New,” he says as he removes his headphones. “I know. I like them. Lately, I dig The Killers and Little Comets.” “The Killers are righteous. Never heard of Little Comets.” He scans my all-black attire. He continues, “So why are you here?” “What do you mean?” “We never get visitors without ulterior motives.” I recognize the struggle he faces maintaining a stable connection with wireless Bluetooth Speakers. I hear snippets of an Avenged Sevenfold song. “Why do you say that?” “Because it’s true. People come if they’re dying or know someone who is. Which one are you?” Tommy succeeds. Elliot Root’s “Punks and Poets” plays. “Neither and both,” I state. He disregards the answer. He skips midway into a new song, “Silent Movie,” by The Boxer Rebellion. “What’s it like to know you’re going to die?” “What’s it like to pretend you’re not?” The playlist is on shuffle. He continues to skip. On we go to a Decemberists ’s song. It’s one off What A
Graffiti Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. He breathes. We speak about a self-made faith, the absence of a god, the inner godliness in us all. He peppers me with questions. He takes my answers with a grain of salt. He knows how it feels to long. “My father” and “yearlong coma” are the words he repeats that resonate. He delves into bands. He compares Sleeping At Last to The Smashing Pumpkins. He’s conflicted among playing Lovedrug’s “The Narcoleptic,” The Airborne Toxic Event’s “Cocaine and Abel” or Hozier’s “Foreigner’s God.” “I’ve settled,” he utters, “with a song by This Town Needs Guns.” Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” plays. This time, we hear an entire song. Ruben, age 8, enjoys reading more than conversations with adults and children. He wears thick-rimmed glasses and has a floppy mass of hair that swivels when he nods his head yes. We shake hands. I smile. Eye contact is not his thing. “So what are you reading?” I notice the thin, paperback book lying on his lap. He turns the book so the creased front cover can be seen. “It’s my favorite – Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad All Year. Have you read it?” He graces me with firm eye contact. “No, but now it’s on my list of books to read before I die. What’s it about?” “These two best friends named Frog and Toad. They’re swamp animals that are just like people. It’s just how they look that’s different.” “Sounds interesting.” My voice becomes hoarse. “And they eat ice cream and celebrate Christmas. I want chocolate ice cream now,” he says, his mind now trailing off. “I would kill for chocolate-chip-cookie-dough. I know a friend, who has an ice-cream truck with loads of ice cream, and he’ll come visit you one of these days,” I say, delicately tickling him with both hands. “You know, you’re a lot like Frog,” he laughs, while attempting to catch his breath. “What do you mean?” “You’re a lot of fun. Toad isn’t.” A lady in white calls him over and he follows, waving back after hugging me twice and thanking me five times for visiting.
Live Frogs I played Monopoly with an eleven-year old boy with fragile legs and terminal cancer. I kept getting into debt and he insisted on giving or, as he called it, “good-Samaritan-donating” colored cash. Once he had hotels in Boardwalk and Park Place, I lost hope in winning. Regardless of accepting seven hundred and fifty donation dollars, I lost. Three ten-year old girls invited me to play a game of Apples to Apples. To win, one compares apples to oranges. Little Delilah’s turn comes up and Helen Keller emerges as the red card. In my hand, I have these green cards: absurd, legendary, revolutionary, brute, timeless, and senseless. I look over to see Kate and Leanne, the other players’ faces. Beaming, they are stunning. I go for a safe card: timeless. Helen Keller was timeless. After the game is over, I steal the card as a keepsake. I exit the hospital in rushed goodbyes and forced hugs and fixed smiles. Along the walk homebound, I see coins face-down on the ground. Each one I stumble upon, I pause to flip a coin heads-up in the hope that luck can spread the same way karma does. So much missing change, there should be wanted signs taped to neighboring lampposts and walking signals. ***
Each day that passes is like submitting to the rhythm of a half-broken record: some parts audible, other areas faint whispers at the cusp of a tongue linking successful screeching to attempted beat. Some days, I wish the record would replay Morgan Freeman-voiced-narrations of my past lives over and again to faces new and even old. Mom died thirty days ago. She was deemed brain-dead. For four days, she was hooked to life support like a baby being linked to its mother via umbilical cord. For four days, doctors asked what my decision was. On the fourth day, I pulled the plug. Rain pummeled hard to the extent where meteorologists advised people to stay in. That wet afternoon dead-set in mid-October, I walked mindlessly. I walked mindlessly umbrella-less. I walked mindlessly phone-less. For days on-end, I saw more lost loose change than ever and I - I stared blankly at random passersby breathing tube-less.
I carry a worn-down, drawstring bag of broken glass shards that, if was methodically pieced together fragment-by-fragment, would construct a whole ceramic frog. I’ve never attempted at this because I can’t handle with enough care. I don’t know why. ***
Tree branches closely resemble nerve cell bodies. Walnuts look like a human brain. Medusas look like mushrooms. Frogs can leap on mushrooms – the vast and the miniscule. They listen for rain long after the storm. They share the longing for an uncluttered solo, the lowering of clouds. Amphibians, frogs aren’t subject to a territory of just land or simply water. These creatures co-exist between worlds, man-made or otherwise, accepting anything that can be caught and swallowed. Sometimes, they get lost - only to be spotted among the rotting debris of fallen trees and shingles. Dig ’em up and you catch wind of the zing of an unhinged banjo string, the rolling snore, the hollow sound, the croak of a call-in. ***
Ensnare the unwary. Acknowledge the circling fruit flies that breathe finite life in a seemingly endless world. Tick tock. Seek shade. Tick tock. Catch light. Eye the flying prey, the unrealized predator. Let go. Embrace inner godliness at an ungodly hour. Probe. Assume Cloud 9, celestially-speaking. “Adapt, frog. Live on,” I whisper, pulling the string and releasing the plastic frog into the open wetland. Metallic dragonflies flutter, buzzing with life. Let go. You hear the calm croon, the coarse call of a crow. You catch glimpse of the vast expanse, the vista in the sonata. You hear the cooling caw, the closing croak.
Lizard - Aliyah Oestreicher 67
POETRY “I’m a freak user of words, not a poet.” - Dylan Thomas
Peck’s Lake Lauren Lodato It was Sydney’s idea. Sydney, and the therapist. It’s part of the grieving process. We filled a jar with tears, and waited for them to evaporate. Sydney put her letter in first, then a bunch of your guitar picks, then some rocks so it would sink. She still believes in magic. I didn’t write a letter. I wanted there to be space for your soul to squeeze in. When she throws it and it hides itself in the mud, I want you to find it, and try to fit in. I will come looking. I will come to collect you.
Trapped Katherine Shkreli Trapped in a world With no place to turn Down This Path Or the other. Youâ€™ll see the same â€“ Colors vibrating off the machines, Reflecting on our faces As we pass by Lifeless humans. They escape into their ThreeIn-a -Row chance to win, pressing one button until lights are flashing forcing them to blink with their eyes burning as the world seems to
Phoenix Krystalina Padilla To grow is to be watered: To be absorbed by heat. But I can only turn ice Into water. I cannot turn the moon Into the sun on the Darkest of my nights. I cannot turn these stitches Into a newly-made quilt. I cannot spark a flame With my insanity and grief. I can only start an inferno. I can only burn to ash And relive again.
Serenity Alexandra Risko I am at peace In your embrace Surrounded by your scent Swaddled in your warmth. Your little snores Lull me to sleep. Swaddled in your warmth Surrounded by your scent And in your embrace I am at peace.
18°N & 69°W Gabrielle van Welie Stitched up Lebanese silk on a Dutch mannequin, with a Dominican fast-talking tongue like any other, and (would you have guessed) held together with French pins that turned out to be more of the Corsican kind, well I could never fit in just any ethnicity box upon application. What does apply is an anxious tick tock when it comes to sand, and sunsets falling upon green chaise lounges at beach resorts that shelter tourists of the feverish lobster kind. The kind that I, in my lack of sunscreen, resemble when I forget that I do not have Dominican melanin, but freckles of the Dutch variety. I am not a ship with a single anchor, so if I were to find myself on a map, I would not have enough fingers to mark where it hurts, for I am but a set of exotic stitches sold in hidden markets selling Latin American sweat for a cent on the dollar, sweat of those who, if not of my people, are at least the people I have known. I come from an island that I’m always leaving behind, even as the waves fold inwards to entrap the free colony, because an eternal summer could not grow me an Eden, bring the serenity of autumn and the silence of winter, or quench the need to find out just what the horizon concealed. And so I packed my bags and ran away to the first stepping stone of many, hidden in a melting pot whose foreign policy burns my feet, but (would you have guessed) Lady Liberty has her ways of selling me back my lost Dutch inheritance and I guess, at least for half a decade, I’ll accept.
Untitled - Breanne Post 75
Twilight Katherine Shkreli As I step through the trees that open up my personal Narnia, the pesky bugs graze against my skin. If you ignore them long enough theyâ€™ll learn to leave you alone. Iâ€™m circling the lake slower than usual. Watching the sun disappear behind the leafless, lifeless trees. The sky is fused together by purples and pinks and the trees create the shade that make me want to walk quicker before the bears get me. I am finally at the spot. My spot. Alone.
I wrap my lips around the cigarette and watch the smoke fold around me.
Take Me off the Shelf Lauren Lodato Let me taste you fingers running down my dusty spine, feel your warm palm pulling me out from the straight-standing ranks of L-M. Curl your thumbs around my cover and unfold me to the cracking sound of my pages fluttering into a fan. Please ignore the leftover, jagged edges of pages long ripped out. And I’m sorry my sleeve comes with no summary, you no doubt, are a busy man. So feel free to skip over chapters like “Senior Year Knee Surgery” and “The Tooth Fairy Isn’t Real?” Go instead, to the dog-eared “Winters at Mount Snow” and if you have the time, turn to page 184, “Saving the Capsized Boy”. Before you put me back, grab my corners and send them into a flip-book frenzy. Let the words spill out and fall into your pockets. Take them home. Mull me over. Weave my sentences around your fingers.
A.J (Brother Black) Emelie Juliana Ali And there I sit and laugh With the girls of my youth Until words of purity Turn to truth. “Oh, I’d never date a black guy” one would say Because black is okay when the tone is light black was a hilarious fantasy Because black and beige doesn’t look right My lips are thin My face is placid Because I got black at home While they have bleached out acid Black has onyx eyes and a white tooth smile While they have blacked out senses Black has a Haitian heart running for miles While they have token blacks for hidden racists Black is a brother, a sister, a human being. Not a presence from your generated Eurocentric machine.
Christmas Eve Krystalina Padilla Through the night, the wind sung Sweet carols to the people while The flakes trickled like confetti On every white window. Steam from coffee and hot cocoa mugs Rose with the smoke in the chimney as The babies caressed their eager hearts And nestled the night away. The following morning A day of all delightsâ€” Where the angels carry the Brightest stars to put on Every tree And Jesus clings onto the people Mourning by the sea.
Iscariot Victoria Santamorena Why do I love the name of Judas – the way it sounds upon the tongue – like silvery wings in the light of candles, flickering gently – flowing fine – like bottles of rum like casks of wine? Why do I love the sound of Judas? It’s human nature in a name – back and forth with love, with hate, and coursing veins with shame – in constant tides like the sea, with salt upon the air– like feet traveling in the desert made raw and sore because they’re bare. Why does the name of Judas fill me with such despair? Because the heart yearns for love while the body yearns for lust – scorn it – disgust, mistrust, and sacrilege fall upon a name, because Judas was so human and tried and tried, yet all in vain. It wasn’t gold or silver that tempted him to flight. He did what prophecy asked of him – betrayal in the night. He denied not those who loved him.
Graffiti He did not want the fame, or infamy of Judas, that came from bearing such a name. Why do I long for Judas – a man of treachery and of love? A kiss upon a fragile face – Was he unworthy of the love of one or many – the praise of falling from humble given grace, with tears upon his cheek and lips upon the face? Why does the feel of Judas linger in my bones? A man who gravely did them wrong – In the quilt of man his guilt is sewn. He threw the tainted silver coins back to the soundless sea and strung himself with a braided rope high up in a tree. Tears mingled with the blood that stained his weary hands. Yet the kiss of betrayal saved humanity in slaying godly man.
Fiend in the Night Katherine Shkreli With a mind intending to kill Searching for a victim With a soul to steal. Thereâ€™s no one in sight, But its shadow, like a fiend In the night following your every move. It creeps closer and closer And thereâ€™s no where else to run, At the edge of that cliff With a clock In your mind Ticking with fear.
DOF - Aliyah Oestreicher 83
Let Me Be Your Lyrics Lauren Lodato My heart speaks in newly-made metaphors and it lives at the banks of a bookmark. Your heart sings with sforzando strength and it lives in the womb of a treble clef. Letâ€™s mesh these worlds, to create a love language that only we know. You play C-major scales across my skin as I lull you to sleep with love poems far greater than this one.
A Letter Unsent Waad Hassan Yesterday I slept on a bed of dying dandelions It was silent as mid-Autumn passing only in color I waited for wishes or pleas not realizing The lack of them was just the same I looked for papers that had enough space Maybe suitable to spell words I was sick of tasting There was too little and I didn’t know It was my oppressing finger on the space bar There was a track of laced leaves in my throat Wide to fit the stories you had me swallow I would’ve objected but they covered The skin you left untouched Had I gotten a longer sentence I could’ve traced the busts on your skin And memorized the notes in the curves I would’ve written a novel About when it all came undone
The City Where Sheep Never Sleep Jordan Winch The lights grow dim in the manor ahead, windows shut and curtains drawn tight. The sheep outside look on in complacence gnawing their jaws on grass in rhythm with the patrons’ heavily breathing of sleep. But not all lie soundly and undisturbed so the sheep must clock in for duty as they all have clocked out. The sheep on the edge of the hill lumps the sod down his throat, lifts his head and peers at the window second to last on the left. He can sense the unrest of one client, Mr. John Hallow, so he ran and he ran and he leaped off the edge of the hill and kicked his hoofs to float on high. He soared and he soared, and with each rising meter his tufts of white turned whispy and transparent. He grew and he grew, his mass spreading wide to veil the moon. If it were daytime passersby would point him out and say, “Look, it’s a sheep.” But it is nighttime, and he must get on with his work. He looked for his opening, a door, a window, a chimney. Mr. John Hallow prefers the breeze of the nighttime air and so the sheep found his entrance. He slipped his body through the tight opening whisp by whisp until the last tail of transparency curled on in. Mr. John Hallow lay in his bed
Graffiti eyes closed, mouth open, with no sleep to be had. He flopped on his back and let out a gust of air, he needs me, thought the sheep, preparing for the job. He called out for his brothers and his sisters all in one and they lined up behind him slipping through the window one by one. Then slipped into Mr. John Hallowâ€™s unsettled mind in a dream where they would leap for his reckoning. One. Two. Three. Ten. Mr. John Hallow breathed in content. The sheep leaped over and over until number 253, when sheep number one signaled the job was done. All filed out back through the window, but the sheep who began the task stood before it, turning back to Mr. John Hallow to make sure he remained in easy and pleasant sleep. When the sheep was satisfied he turned his back, going out the way he came in to find another house. His job must go on, all through the night hours visiting patron by patron, turning them into dreamers of the night. In the morning the sheep will return to their meadow and when Mr. John Hallow looks out his window in wake theyâ€™ll be chomping the grass like the sheep they are waiting for the night fall to put him to rest once more.
Unsolicited Advice For the Girl Who Is Still Waiting for Him to Save Her Melissa Gargiulo He is not going to save you. Get up off the bathroom floor. Take the cigarette out of your mouth. Eat something when you sit down for dinner. He is not going to save you. The boy that danced with you in the street at 3 AM is no longer here. He is not going to swoop in and tell you youâ€™re beautiful. The boy that held you when you got scared is gone. He is the one who kissed your best friend. The same night he touched you. And honestly believed it was okay. Until you found out. And then him & his existential bullshit took the first bus out of here. He is not going to change. He is not going to save you. You didnâ€™t get the fairy tale, you hoped. You got this. You got betrayal, and heartache, and self-hatred. Get over it. He is not going to save you. For crying out loud you made out to an episode of the Simpsons, was he really that great? Do not let him come home to find some sad, pitiful little girl. Let him come home to the one that got away. To the one with the bright smile and vicious red lips. He is not going to save you. You are going to save yourself.
Down By the River Katherine Shkreli It was the two of us down by the river that day The sun was hiding behind the trees as the water flowed by. We were alone, smoked till we were ready to be one with water to feel like we could float away with it. We walked hand in hand down to the end of the shore, and let the slow moving water grab us in. The minute it touched my skin I screamed from the goose bumps that rose up and then felt your arms around me throwing me in.
Forever My Playground Lauren Lodato If I ever find you dead, forget the therapist. Bring me a witch doctor. Shrink me down. So I can climb up your ribs and swing from your collarbones.
Untitled - Brianna N. Barrett 91
Maybe Emelie Juliana Ali Maybe if I scream “I love you” Loud enough in my head, It would transcend through the universe And unload your plagued mind. Maybe if I kiss your cheek one more time, It would suck up the self-loathing That brought the tears from your honeydew eyes. Maybe if I convince you How much I love you, You would feel it stream from the fingertips of our embrace Into the marrow of your bones. Maybe if your mind was a displayed canvas, the world could see the cracks and leaks of paint That splatter from your soul, So you wouldn’t feel alone. Maybe if the consolations that spilled from my mouth, didn’t fall like sawdust and ash, But instead raised your spirit The way your smile has raised mine, You wouldn’t fight alone. Maybe if we were different, I would be able to save you.
For Judas Victoria Santamorena My dear, darling Judas, eat my matches. I am unruly. Strike me down with murderous lightning. Strike a match and give him plenty of wine to douse his Eucharistic fires in. Slip, slurp, slip, down into the gullet they go. Communal cannibalism is ripe for heretical thinking. Eat the matches, swallow them whole. One by one – aren’t they good? I dine on the Pentecostal fire of my heavenly yearning. Eat my figment matches while they burn. Slip, slurp, slip aflame! Aflame! Down into the gulch they go. Aren’t you cavernous, my lovely tool? Your mouth is so warm, inviting too. Carnivorous, I like your teeth like stones to stretch my decaying body on. I wait for those buzzards. I, by his bedside, stand like a stone. Corpus Christi written thereon.
Lys Adriana Segura She’s manic. She’s lost all hope and the worst thing that I could say is “Everything’s going to be okay.” She paces my floor, tiny feet creating invisible train tracks on my carpet, the only thing right now that’s keeping her together. She fears falling off of them they are the only scrap of sanity she feels that she has left. There’s nothing I can do but bring her the second bottle of wine that she asks for and she swings it even more chaotically than the first. Tears collide with her smile, the only thing left to do is take another gulp of that sweet alcohol that has just started to numb her senses – leaving her in a pink bubble to float on for as long as she can because she knows it will pop in the morning. But she doesn’t have to worry about that just yet. She’s numb enough now to derail, falling off her tracks and collapsing into my chair and for the first time I see that tear stained cheeks are a real thing, as her blue-green eyes meet mine. I give a gentle smile and she gives one right back and I think to myself that this is what true beauty is. Never has she hurt more than in this moment and yet she still can find the strength to give that smile that always reaches her eyes. It does so even tonight. She’s not manic anymore. She’s reached that perfect mixture of sleepy, sad, and numb. I tuck her into bed and kiss her goodnight, wishing I could take away the pain that she will feel in the morning.
Discover Lauren Lodato You may not remember, but you’re a vine-covered wooden door hidden in a wall of stone. I see it bottled up inside you. You’re the underside of a fallen tree, railroad of roots traverse your body. You may not remember. You’re the abandoned building taken over by wild lilies and moss. I see it bottled up inside you. You’re a thirty-cent thrift store vase with a handwritten love letter inside. You may not remember. You’re the multicolored two-by-fours of a child’s first treehouse. I see it bottled up inside you. You’re an antique turquoise ring, once belonging to someone’s secret lover. You may not remember, but I see it bottled up inside you.
Defense Melissa A. Gargiulo At my high school the seniors girls were taken out of class for a self defense course where were the boys you might ask? Well they ran around outside like animals then came inside to watch the girls with thick thighs and heavy hearts, punch and kick and scratch at a bag oblivious that they were the ones we were learning to protect ourselves from why am I learning to defend myself while there are boys are running around thinking they can rape me that they can touch me that I’m theirs for the taking ‘mmhm baby look at that ass’ ‘yeah hit harder’ ‘oh yeah you’re a dirty little fighter, aren’t you’ well fuck that and fuck you my body is no ones for the taking so don’t you dare think I won’t punch you in the throat or strike you in the temple paralyze you with a single hit because once you allow women the chance to believe in our strength we can turn into the warriors that have always been raging inside us learning to kill with a laugh rolling off our tongue we have been trained from the beginning to fake our happiness, so don’t for a second think I won’t kick you so hard that your scrotum reverts back up into your body, with the biggest, brightest smile on my face when we were split up into groups to try out our punches i had so much anger raging inside of me that the instructor looked at me
Graffiti and said “who hurt you?” to which i replied “I’m not afraid of him coming home anymore.” so my dear boy, learn something from this you have no power over me your words may have felt like daggers but you have no idea the kind of pain i can inflict all while keeping my lipstick perfectly intact
American Dream Krystalina Padilla Some walk this pale blue dust with A pocket full of soil Hoping for growth in a Small, forsaken cave. Others drag on this pale blue dust With ash from burnt bridges, Hoping to rebuild Pieces of themselves Along the way. Itâ€™s the land of poor But its people are rich in spirit; We lack a suit and tie But have a fortress in our minds. We cry on this pale blue dust With green as our demise Because the grass is only greener The harder you squint your eyes. We tread this pale blue dust Preaching peace from The mouths of those who sinâ€” Who have only seen the rain And never felt it On their skin.
Stairs - Khalea Baker 99
I’m Not a Lover Jordan Winch I don’t want to talk about love. But your name finds its way into every conversation and I can relate stories about you to any topic, and when there’s no one to speak your name to I find myself whispering it aloud, tasting each syllable. I don’t want to think about love. But when I’m staring out of the bus window, at nothing but landscape, I replay moments of us rolling in bed and imagine us out there on the bed of grass with your laughter rolling in the hills. I don’t want to write about love. But when paper meets pen and no ink seeps on the page you’re the subconscious muse filling my heart with inspiration and the only subject I can seem to fix my mind on. I don’t want to use my breath talking about love. It is menial and dissatisfying and tasteless. And yet…
Blood Moon Melissa Gargiulo Once a month, a full moon shines through the night sky. The same full moon you told me you’d be looking at when we were apart. Once a month the moon stands completely opposite from the sun, The same full moon that you told me I would never feel alone under. You kissed me under that moon during a warm summer night. You left me when the sun was shining through the snowy sky. The complete opposite of when we tasted fire. You said our kiss warmed your heart. I guess warming turned to singing. We danced under the full moon, But once the sun rose, the demons inside of us had their chance to play. Throwing around the word abuse like a gun with the barrel pointed at ourselves. When I would drive at night, I would scream wishing I’d never have to see that moon. But then again, sometimes I’d hope you were looking at it and still thinking of me. I know you never do. You’d probably write ‘fuck you’ in the moon if you could, so I’d be reminded of you. Like everything doesn’t remind me of you. You don’t deserve these words. I love the moon Loved. I watch the moon, waiting for the venom of our poison to drip off of it So maybe it could give us the chance to dance in the moonlight again
Graffiti The prophecy of a blood moon states it as the end of time. It was But for some reason, Iâ€™m still here. And youâ€™re still there. The sun has blackened, The moon is blood, screaming omens of the end And the equinox never seemed to realign.
Dollhouse Lauren Lodato Try. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, make a wish for someone new. Get lost in our house made of soft sheets cold kisses and blue dishes We both know you want to leave and like cracking bones our silence screams. We sit inside our heads alone, sharing only wasted time, in our house of whatâ€™s yours is mine.
Winter Came Quickly Emelie Juliana Ali Winter came quickly so I wrote a Villanelle. That single dimple stole my heart So when you asked if I loved you, I said my kisses would tell. Perhaps too soon, but I can already hear the bells. I wish they wouldn’t ring, but it’s too late, why must you depart? Winter came quickly so I wrote a Villanelle. Those God damned lips can send me to hell. Once you’re gone I’ll fall apart. So when you asked if I loved you, I said my kisses would tell. After the third night I knew I fell In love with the ghost of a woman, so cunning, so smart. Winter came quickly so I wrote a Villanelle.
The snow never felt so cold, I’m trapped in your spell. There’s an amazon inside you, too warm for such blasted ice to part. So when you asked if I loved you, I said my kisses would tell. The river is frozen thick my love, farewell. Your softness is now so far away, so you’ll live in my memory a piece of art. Winter came quickly so I wrote a Villanelle. So when you asked if I loved you, I said my kisses would tell.
The Lost Chapel Krystalina Padilla It sits on the corner of Ferwood Street Next to an alley where the black stray cats Fiddle with broken beer bottles In the day and night. The walls glisten best when the sun rises Before the people enter for mass. Its stained glass windows pour out the stories Of a broken angelâ€™s quest for redemption. Its beauty still intact like Relics of a bygone society. But even the lavish antiques become Trite and useless. Echoes of Hallelujah are heard By no one with ears to listen. The prayers give no mercy To those who lack forgiveness. It sits on the corner of Ferwood Street Searching for water in a drought. Every morning praying for rainfall So it can see a better day tomorrow.
Dream Catcher Alejandro González Hope, The destroyer of planets. The devourer of dreams. The evolutionary misstep of men. Disillusions of all that we’ve seen and all that we’ve lost, only Misgivings of a thinking mind. Think but never reflect, the mirror shatters at the touch. The truth that we seek lies in the mist across the pond Invisible to our eyes Imperceivable to our minds. Hope, The synthesizing needle that pricks the skin. The opposite to the vaccine. The rot of the abundant apple, Forgive me for my misgivings. Hopeful till I decay into a better dream. Esperanza nunca te vayas!
Novel Michaela Murdock You’re different. Your spine has collapsed but I’ll hold you together. Make sloppy stitches and slip through the binds, climb between lines and leap to your middle. I’m bound to you, slave to the page, a freeloader riding on someone else’s beat. You don’t mind. There’s space in the print Left blank for a guest, a cameo stint and you gave me the part. Here in the margin I’ll beg you a question, solve the riddle but resign recognition. It’s a lonely life spent between covers, lost in the letters, cursing page numbers that race to the end. And then— I fall hard. I’ve just noticed the swirls, the curls of Something in this oak floor.
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Stains of Purity Shannon Gaffney An abstinent acrobat-I could seduce-But I dare not, for that is unwomanly. I stand proud, though am not-I smile, but do not speak-I say, “thank you” with my eyes-I am a rose-- that is enough-You want me to be perfect. My body to entice you-Your eyes, dark, say “Well, Well.” For if I’m not your dream, I’m Hell.
Epilogue Emily Behnke You can barely grasp the smooth and gray of yesterday, but still, you try to reach it with your nimble fingers. Long, relentless they tie and untie the knot inside my reeling stomach with every blue, silent night we endure together. Itâ€™s cold tonight, and all thatâ€™s left of you is bones, starving shivering in silence, teeth clattering but still, you insist on leaving the windows open all year long. Perhaps, youâ€™d like to listen to the music of the dark and stars: dead oak leaves rustling and patting of snow falling, blades of grass crushed but still, singing. Listen: this silence is heavy. We are no longer dancing through it, but dragging our feet, wilted and blue. We must admit our defeat.
Darling Judas Victoria Santamorena Judas, Judas, darling Judas, I’m a killer, and so are you. Grab you coins with greedy hands While Jesus Christ confessed he knew that you would be the one to do it, kiss his face and greet the night – that you would be the one to do it, trade salvation for Roman might. Judas, Judas, darling Judas, I’m a sinner and so are you. Confess to me beneath the moon the very actions that you rue. Kiss me now and reveal to me the nature of your earthly sin. Kiss me now and reveal to me how you let temptation in. Judas, Judas, darling Judas, I am human and so are you. Do you see the rock of agony where you gave up your morality in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus Christ knew that you would be the one to do it, sell ritual sacrifice – that you would be the one to do it, corrupt yourself for Jesus Christ?
I Spent the Years After You Forced Yourself On Me Looking For Comfort Adriana Segura
Arms became welcomed cages where I would hide small parts of myself. Mirrors became crazy mazes with bits of my sanity and self-esteem shattered in each shard of glass. Nights were once my friend, but now they were the enemy, causing my dark, untrusting eyes to dart anxiously at strangers. The horizontal bars that covered my windows teased and tortured me every day, both protecting me from the unknown, but also keeping me in my living hell. For a long time, I believed I was only worthy of being treated like an animal. -
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Epilogue Michaela D. Murdock You fell asleep when we left, a tired frame weary and aged, dozing at last in the afternoon sun. You slumped, settled into the soil and memory of it all, empty of life but not empty of us. You got smaller, shrunk away from our voices, stung by the quiet of the pines and the black-eyed susans too yellow. You let yourself go and I hate that your panes collect dust and the pool water is greener than the lawn before your tired eyes. I suppose you are bitter, hurt by the scuffs on the floor and the numbers etched in your arches that mark dusty years. I guess I am bitter, too, angry you didnâ€™t put up a fight, jog memories of my mother carried over the threshold, creak your bones a little louder to groan in protest. While you were sleeping the weeds choked the black-eyed susans and the column crumbled when you didnâ€™t hold it up. I came back but you slept too long, had a nightmare no one heard, and now I sit and look at the shutters no one closed, hoping for your sake you forget us.
Orchestrated Allison Stacey Malaluan Off to mass I go in falling black sweats and a wrinkled white shirt to turn the creaking knob, touched by saints and sinners alike, to orchestrate a multitude of heads – priest included – about-face at my supposed ten-minute lateness. Crack of the rusty door slowly shutting, the air clinging dreamily at a short breath of life, dying to be separated momentarily from incense. Off to mass I go to hear stories said in pieces about beings expired and renewed, to pay heed to the union of parable and riddle, to arch my right arm like an elongated question mark, and shake the weight of a stranger’s hand in a moment of orchestrated forgiveness. Off to mass I go to feel the weight of a pause in the conversion of bread to body – of water to wine – with knees bent, hands clasped, eyes seeking light, body yearning for water, simple water, all-around. I go from mass. I wonder
Graffiti if faith is a deathless string of unfailing, long distance calls â€“ if prayers could be catalogued and archived â€“ sent straight to voicemail in a lightless basement never to be answered in this life, or the next.
Defining Myself Adriana P. Segura My mother always says that I’m my own worst enemy. My self-expectations are sky high and I’ve got a classy taste with pockets that are too dry, and to be quite frank, I hate myself sometimes. I hate that I know when I’m wrong too late and how I’m always apologizing for things at a time that wasn’t timed by fate. I hate that I’m impatient with the most important conversations and how my morals and actions seem to fall in between contradictions. I hate that I’m the first to procrastinate and that I’m sadly the best at finding excuses to leave awkward situations behind, running away from any sort of confrontation, nervous twitches leaving these legs unstill and twirling silver rings leaving my head spinning. I hate being too self-absorbed to not bother noticing how much my best friend sacrifices for me, late night rants pouring out his captured thoughts not adequate for a Kodak moment, but please, blame me for that, for after all it was me who fractured his feelings to a state unsuitable for a frame and for that, I apologize. I hate that I’m full of regrets, it used to be of things I let slip away, but now it’s mostly things I’d give anything to take away from this memory of mine which acts like a sponge, soaking up secrets that sting when it decides to plunge into the darkest depths of my mind, crevices raped and nothing left behind. I hate that I fear my parent’s invisible clutch they have on my conscience, consequences ruling my every decision with the want for freedom but the fear of disappointment in their eyes holding me back. I hate that I sometimes let my pride get in the way of doing what’s right, fighting against myself on which part of me feels stronger and the fight continues longer because there is never an end to this cycle I have created for myself.
Untitled - Breanne Post 118
My First Morning Without You Lauren Lodato I left it all untouched. The dessert plate with toast crumbs, an empty yogurt container with spoon, that mug printed with a picture of us apple picking in Vermont. Your breakfast on display at the museum on my coffee table.
Beside the Stone Michaela Murdock No clean break— —you were splintered wood, a cloth unraveled from every end, untangled until you were just a thread that blew away with your last breath. I’m undone— angry at your poured out years and screaming at this cold black grave. Permanence kills the distracted and you weren’t looking, closed your eyes when He came knocking— I hate this eulogy. You were the rope that moored these wayward boats, the line that leapt but lost its jump. You lost your chest, your rise and fall but found your way onto my tongue. Take my hand—I’ll drag you back to these faces, these black petticoats and awful veils that flock together like geese when the colors change. You would see us, a sad blemish on this green field, a stray stain amidst these white lilies that make me sneeze when I stand too close—
Graffiti â€”or stay. Stay in the sun and remember us when we were more than a stain, more than a mark on the landscape. Leave us. Weâ€™ll find our way out of this field.
Young Fire Samantha Rice
Winner of the Robert Oâ€™Clair Prize for Poetry
There is a wolf that has just eaten a cow. He has ripped all his tendons apart, chewed them beautifully, the warm blood spewing on the earth like our firstborn. I have gone out to see the guts of the animal, his naked flesh golden against the sun, flies collecting on his dry blood one last time. For one last time we have decided to go out into the fields, to watch the seasonâ€™s make their changes, and I am not sure which has come first: the shepherd or the lamb. To sin, they say, is to love the pleasures of the world too much, to speak to the Greek Gods who have bathed us in sin. Listen to Dionysus, they say. Listen to him, his cold chest pressed against yours while the moonlight hardens on your bodies and the night fever tells you one last time: it is over.
Energy Samantha Rice I. The sun was looming bright and angry, shining through the colossal walls. They told me that art was one that created concentric circles originating from our minds; chiming against the windows wells and country sides. The body they say is art. It stands alone. II. Cold hands are like steel train tracks fastened together by strings. The wind is melting the shadows, and I am only a reflection of the moon. Overlapping bodieslegs coiling like telephone lines, hot breath that breaks the morning coffee that is what saves us.
How We Learn to Love Samantha Rice I know of this place in the distance where the creek swells onto the crooked ground, bare and fragile. Yes, I have seen it. Felt it? No. But, I can tell you of this woman, a woman who has laid herself down for another man, in a darkened room bodies like toothpicks, odorless and emotionless she tells me, This is nothing. I have seen her, glazed with honey amongst the spruce trees, strings running from her fingers into a bottomless hole where the strange are forgotten. Yes, I have felt this, bodies sprawled on the waste side, half-living, half-dying, they are of no use to the world, this world, that was created before we have lived, and turned against its own father is starvinghanging like raw meat, swaying, it gently sways.
Audrey Hepburn - Christina L. Modica 125
ESSAYS & ABSTRACTS “Write what should not be forgotten.” - Isabel Allende
Johnson Cigar Club Emelie Juliana Ali
Winner of the Dan Masterson Prize for Screenwriting
Johnson Cigar Clubâ€™s opening scene begins with our protagonist, thirty-two year old and elegantly dressed Marilyn, retching into a kitchen sink in her beautiful New Jersey, suburban home. She looks for a silver lining to her dragging career as a chef, when sheâ€™d rather be finding a way to become a pianist. After she hosts a small party with the wives in the area and gets in touch with a manager, she discovers the complexities of her life follow her on her new path. A dying marriage, a relentless mother, an unknown son, and the accepting of a long misunderstood and suppressed sexuality is just the tip of the iceberg, and a reminder that no oneâ€™s life is too simple, nor is the road to self-discovery every truly shut.
Things Men Should Not Do: Mad Science in the Films of James Whale Danaleigh Reilly
Winner of the William K. Everson Prize for Writing on Film
The Frankenstein franchise, especially Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), can be considered some of the most classic films in the age of the Hollywood horror. Outside of the franchise, another film became part of the classic 1930s horror family: The Invisible Man (1933). The term horror should be considered loosely, because these films contain some elements of science fiction films. With the presence of supernatural beings, it’d be easy to automatically classify the film as horror, but one cannot deny the birth of the supernatural is rooted in science. Additionally, Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein were directed by the same person: James Whale. All three films have similar themes, specifically dealing with ambition, madness, and modern science. This essay attempts to answer the question: can one look at a film directed by Whale as a “James Whale film” due to common characteristics? To further answer this question, the common stylistic elements are considered, including his use of theatrical sets and dramatic entrances. Considering the genre versus authorship debate, when analyzing James Whale’s horror-science fiction classics, one side does not dominate and instead work in conversation with each other.
May Well Be a Jew: Representations of Jewishness in Sexton and Plath Victoria Santamorena
Winner of the Sister Margaret Williams Prize for Literary Criticism
Several literary critics argue that Sylvia Plath was a poet who appropriated images of Jewish suffering and the Holocaust to express her own personal pain, despite never having experienced the horrors of the Holocaust herself. Yet critics fail to see that one of Plath’s contemporaries, Anne Sexton, used similar images to make manifest her personal pains. While Sylvia Plath’s poems treat Jews and their experiences as roles her speakers can perform, Sexton’s poems tend to idealize the Jews, honoring their experiences while implicating mankind in perpetuating Jewish suffering. For both poets, the Jews pose as outsiders. While Plath projects this identity onto her speakers, Sexton allows us to get to the heart of that suffering. To understand Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton’s poems touching on the Holocaust and Jewish suffering – poems such as “Daddy,” “Lady Lazarus,” “The Thin People,” “After Auschwitz,” and “My Friend, My Friend” – we must first examine why and how these poets adopted Jews as symbols in their work. We must understand certain literary traditions as well as the culture of the 1950s and 60s when Sexton and Plath were most active. Only then can we fully understand how and why Plath and Sexton chose to portray Jews as victims in their verse.
On Edgar Allan Poe’s Borrowed Architecture and Its Complexities Phuong Le
Winner of the Sister Margaret Williams Prize for Literary Criticism
Edgar Allan Poe’s oeuvre is populated with lonely people living in lonely houses. Yet, while the author’s macabre characters have long merited much critical discourse, the architecture featured in his stories and poems is often described in generic phrases such as “Gothic” or “Elizabethan,” terms that place his works under the influence of British rather than American literature. Nevertheless, historical evidences have shown that these structures actually fail to correspond to the architectural styles of those time period. In fact, Poe’s vast, strange mansions appear to exist in non-specific realms, straddling between ahistorical spaces and the frenzied mindscapes of their crazed inmates. Since Poe, in “Philosophy of Composition,” refers to his creative process as resembling a poetry automaton methodically churning out poems, his paradoxically mechanical and anthropomorphic edifices could thus be seen as an extension of this sensibility. Consequently, this paper aims to propose that the architecture in the author’s works is not merely a borrowed historical backdrop for the characters or a homage to the legacy of British literature but rather a reflection of Poe’s personal literary ambivalence about his time period, and specifically the Industrial Revolution which threatened to bring about dehumanizing consequences.
The Once-and-Future Wales Gabrielle van Welie Between Ireland and England sits the country of Wales, often overlooked by travelers and history books. I might have always made this mistake if it wasn’t for a study abroad opportunity offered at my school, a trip that I signed up for without having the slightest idea of what I was getting into. I did my research after taking the leap of faith so that upon entering I knew if not what to expect, then certainly what to wish for. Although I am not an avid Tolkien fan, I hoped Wales would look like The Shire. I have heard Iceland does a better job at Hobbit holes, but I did not grow disappointed as the Welsh countryside proved to resemble more the pastoral, rural hills one sees in dreams, as opposed to in fantasies. I later learned that what I was seeing and recognizing was nothing other than Arthur’s Camelot. Welsh might not sound as romantic as Latin languages, but its vocabulary has preserved the emptiness, longing, and nostalgia of human experience in a way that no other language has ever succeeded in doing. Cynefin is one of the many terms we were taught during our stay in Lampeter. Literally, it refers to the way in which sheep pass on the knowledge of their land or territory onto their offspring. However, Welsh poets describe it as the ability to feel a sense of place. It is the moment in which you can feel nature recognize you, regardless of whether or not the particular soil you are standing on has ever met you before. That’s how I felt as Meds (our bus driver) delivered us half asleep into the arms of the Welsh countryside. It could be that this experience is an optical illusion, perpetrated by the rolling hills that never really tower above you. Maybe it has more to do with its people: kind, mellow, and so enamored with their own land that you cannot help but want to fall in love with it, too. Perhaps, what I feel is a deep affinity towards the sheep, the ones that bleat incessantly, yet diligently clip the grass ensuring that the landscape looks well kempt. Wales may be Britain’s best-kept secret, but the Welsh people hold no wizard’s curtain. For instance, during the first day of the workshop we
Graffiti walked around Lampeter as a writing exercise. As our group of seventeen stood before a set of houses, a local police officer approached us. For a split second we all thought he was going to ask us to leave, but instead he inquired as to what we were doing and proceeded to tell us about the history of Welsh houses. Apparently, the houses are not named necessarily after the families that own them, but rather the houses have held names for so long that there are even legends attached to some of them. Lampeter is a charming college town, but it was places like New Quay (where Dylan Thomas lived for a year, inspiring his radio play Under Milk Wood) that I really felt cynefin. This seaside town might have more ice cream shops than people, but the people are sweeter than the ice cream (go figure). Sam, our tour guide, painted her grandparents’ New Quay against the backdrop of her own to reveal what Dylan Thomas experienced while living there. I have yet to read the play, but the story of the town needs little embellishment to be bestseller-worthy. When we first arrived, there was talk of a mansion in the middle of nowhere. Jokes about ghosts and lack of electricity were made, and I preferred it that way, for no description of Gregynog would have done it justice. Even though our rooms could have been the equivalent of Victorian maid quarters, the fountain-filled gardens, the hospitable staff, and the secret ghostly rooms packed with books, paintings, and instruments made me feel like I was finally living in a Grimm’s fairytale. The Davies sisters inherited the mansion from their grandfather and refurbished the property to help rehabilitate Welsh soldiers after World War I. This selfless act turned the mansion into an arts mecca for the Welsh community, a tidbit of knowledge that worked like fairy dust during my stay. We used Gregynog as a resting point for our next day trips, featuring an intense session of town hopping and souvenir shopping. I got half a congratulatory nod from Meds whenever I succeeded in returning with no shopping bags. It wasn’t until I walked into Penrallt Gallery Bookshop in Machynlleth that I felt cynefin again. My Manhattanville crew briefly abandoned me after they went out in search of a bathroom. I was left with our professor who introduced me to Diane, the owner of the store, with his classic “This is Gabrielle” introduction. I had an incredibly pleasant
The Once-and-Future Wales and unexpected chat with a charming lady that was absolutely enthused to hear about my writing, my life in Dominican Republic, and the program we were attending in Lampeter. By the time the crew returned, we were all showered with free books and bags and a heavy feeling in our hearts: this bookstore (like everything in Wales) would continue on without us. Cynefin wasnâ€™t the only term we learned during our workshops. Our instructors knew we would need a word with a bigger pocket to hold the feelings we would have as we saw our trip back to Heathrow, and back to our everyday lives, grow nearer. Hiraeth refers to homesickness, but it most accurately refers to understanding as home something that was created in your mind. It is the longing for something that never was. For the Welsh, it is a longing for something that once was and never will be again. From this idea stems the Arthurian legend of the once-and-future king, who will never walk among us in our lifetime. Hiraeth makes the promise that my experience in Wales, in which I felt cynefin, will exist in my past and is possible to be re-attained in my future, but admits that the chances of the experience ever tasting quite the same are excruciatingly slim. The agreement hiraeth and I have reached is that I will never stop feeling it. Not for Wales, not for New York, and not for Dominican Republic. Hiraeth has promised to follow me everywhere I go. At least the brute finally has a name.
Untitled - Krista Escaffi-Aguilar 135
THE CONTRIBUTORS Adriana Segura is currently a senior majoring in English, concentrating in creative writing. She has been a Resident Advisor for three years in Spellman Hall. She is from Danbury, Connecticut where she lives with her parents, twin sister, little sister, and cat and dog, Kazoo and Nutella. Alejandro González is a junior at Manhattanville College. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Alexis Garcia, who was born and raised in Harlem, NY, is currently a junior at Manhattanville, studying creative and professional writing and criminal law. On her spare time, she tries to perfect her poetic craft in order to become the next Sappho. Allison Stacey Malaluan has a resting, happy face and envisions it in a parallel universe where she has endless access to green tea, mangoes, and bicycles. A junior at Manhattanville, she likes Polaroid cameras, 2 AM conversations about existence, killing & getting killed on Super Smash Bros., lyrical music, thrift shops, and playing “Exquisite Corpse” with friends that stop by her radio show, “Wakey, Sleepy Time.” Alexandra Risko is a sophomore at Manhattanville College, majoring in English and education. She wants to be a High School English Teacher so she can spread her love of literature to the younger generations. Caleb P. Crocker is a freshman at Manhattanville College planning to major in creative writing. He hopes to work as an editor in the future, as well as become an author. Caritza Berlioz is currently a senior at Manhattanville College, double majoring in communication studies and creative writing. She writes predominately fiction works and has written for Manhattanville’s Touchstone, Graphic Novel Reporter, and an upcoming Star Wars fanzine.
THE CONTRIBUTORS Emelie Juliana Ali tends to go by Emmie, her creative nickname for her lack of overwhelming creativity, which began at the ripe age for teenage angst: 13. When she’s not freaking out about double majoring, not writing enough, or obsessing over Victorian era TV shows, she’s screaming into the endless abyss dedicated to social oppression rants. Emily Behnke is a sophomore who plans to major in English literature with a minor in creative writing. She enjoys old bookstores, writing, and watching an embarrassing amount of cooking shows on the Food Network. Gabrielle van Welie was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is an English and communications double major, as well as a Spanish literature minor. As the editor-in-chief for Graffiti and TintaExtinta, Gabrielle gets to geek out even more about the written word. John J. Bonelli is a Freshman at Manhattanville and plans to double major in Digital Media Production and Communication. He is a proud member of the Manhattanville Video Project and MVL Radio. His favorite book is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger. He plans to work at a certain production company in Texas in the future. Also, he is a video game enthusiast. Jordan Winch is a junior double majoring in Creative Writing and Business Management, minoring in Women and Gender Studies. Jordan has since become an editor for Graffiti Literary Magazine after being published in last year’s edition. The poems published in this year’s edition are products of the annual study abroad trip to Wales with the creative writing program. The trip inspired Jordan to new lengths in her poetry and continues to do so. Katherine Matuszek is a freshman at Manhattanville and an English Literature major. In her spare time she likes to read, write, and encourage her friends to read more books. Katherine Shkreli is a Creative Writing major. She hopes to one day write
THE CONTRIBUTORS books of poetry and maybe even a novel. Who knows what Destiny has in mind. Krystalina Padilla is a senior majoring in English Literature/Creative Writing with a minor in Women Studies. She enjoys writing fiction and reading books by Jhumpa Lahiri and Junot Diaz. Melissa Gargiulo can mostly be seen lying in her bed hiding from anything to do with being an adult. She has a sarcastic outlook, a caffeine addiction & always a sharp wing of eyeliner. Michaela Murdock is a junior at Manhattanville and an English/Education major. She loves reading, writing, and cooking. Phuong Le is a senior at Manhattanville with a double major in communications and English as well as a minor in French. Her writings have been published in Film Comment, Indiewire, PopOptiq, Vague Visages and Movie Mezzanine. Her favorite David Bowie album is Low. Samantha Jean Rice is a Creative Writing major, and a dance minor. She is incredibly honored and humbled to have won the Robert Oâ€™Clair Prize for poetry. She is very passionate about the art of poetry, and hopes to publish her pieces in other literary magazines in the future. Shannon Gaffney is a sophomore musical theatre major with a creative writing minor at Manhattanville College. She is thrilled to be published in Graffiti for a second time. Victoria Santamorena is currently a Junior at Manhattanville College. When she is not writing poetry about her Catholic guilt, she can be found in the Writing Center or her hermitage in stacks (adjacent to the Oscar Wilde Section).
Spring 2016 Edition Manhattanville College Purchase, NY