growl issue #6
Staff Editor-in-Chief Managing Editors Design Editor Art Director Head Copyeditor Copy Editors General Staff
Cecilia Gray Emily Ewing Isabelle Jensen Lauren Sager Sophia Fox Sabrina Josephson Debra Aspromonti Manasvi Vietla Victoria Carrubba Jessica Mannhaupt Audra Nemirow Helen Johannesman Caitlyn “Cat” Snell Sam Whitman Olivia Wisse
Thank you to our contributors: Anonymous Debbie A Madeline Armstrong Emily Ewing Sophia Fox Kristina Fortunato Cecilia Gray Taylor Hunsaker Maggie Hurley Isabelle Jensen Sabrina Josephson T Kosek Lillian Lu Jessica Mannhaupt Aissatou Ndiour Lauren Sager Caitlyn “Cat” Snell Sam Whitman
CONTENT WARNING: Some pieces in Growl involve themes that may be upsetting or triggering in nature to certain audiences.
Isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it weird Aissatou Ndiour You thought that it would stay locked inside of you forever. You thought that you would never find the right answers. You thought that it might not even be real, true, or possible. But here you are, learning to handle this piece of yourself, and growing with it.
Candlehead Emily Ewing Her skin crackles like melting sugar, the light beneath her hand shining through with the dull flicker of a beating heart. It drips scentlessly. Her fingers whittle themselves into soft knives as the wax melts and spreads across the floor, and she remembers the taste of sunshine. Copper pools in the corners of her mouth. She traces swirling patterns on her body, the velvet memory of her childhood wiped away with a carving knife she once used for pumpkins.
Scale Conversations Isabelle Jensen Today the scale tells me what I want to hear. I say thank you, of course. I ask when will I see it in the mirror? The scale says when you stop begging to.
Just a Bump Sophia Fox maybe he did just bump into me but it felt so strange it wasn’t a normal bump. I don’t usually scream at a normal bump. I don’t usually freeze when someone bumps into me. I’m not one to stutter. I don’t usually stand on the corner, feeling helpless and out of breath because someone bumped into me. so maybe he did just bump into me but let me know why I felt him push his body against my side. let me know why the pressure on my skin followed me all the way home while the pit in my stomach slowed me down. the train could not go fast enough. I could not leave fast enough. it could not have happened fast enough. and yet it happened in a flash. maybe he did just bump into me. maybe I should be glad it wasn’t more. I should be glad that he didn’t knock me over and fall on top of me. I should be relieved that I had friends with me who made sure I was ok. I tell a lot of people that I’m ok. I’m not so sure anymore. because the more I think about it the more I feel him. I feel him looking at me. he stands behind me. 6
he is watching me remember him. watching me share what he did. he is smiling at me. and my instinct is to smile back but I can’t help but shake with terror. he did bump into me. but on a nearly empty street corner it didn’t feel like an accident. it didn’t feel like just a bump. he lingered for a moment too long. I recovered I kept walking but the pressure the pressure it lingered like he did but longer. I shook as I walked I couldn’t help but shake my leg try and shake off the feeling of him pressed against me up and down my entire side I felt him he was especially strong in the legs he stayed on my legs the longest I said nothing that night but I cried I cried because that was all I felt like I had the power to do because I said nothing I didn’t go after him I thought I would but that moment proved to me that I am not as tough as I thought I was. SPRING 2020
Blank Space Madeline Armstrong Your pocket borrowed me. An eye to taste, then spit it out. You were soft as a melting cage. You called the others friends. Love is standing with a gun. Never meant to kill, only maim or seriously injure. You cried, shards of glass dripping from your eyes. I wanted the fragility, to see the darkness â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the abandoned tent in her binoculars, the dog sniffing the remains of a sparrow, a half eroded past, struggling. You asked me to write you a letter to start over. I should have known, what you really wanted was a delete button. Now, all thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s left is blank space.
Home Cecilia Gray I never go home It’s not that I hate it, not that I don’t want to, But each time I walk through the front door it’s like I’ve transported through time I feel myself shrink as everything towers over me The memories, the expectations, and of course the people The same people who made me feel like I was never good enough, Even if that wasn’t their intention They welcome me back into the home I walked out of without looking back They call me the baby, a child, incapable of being independent I never go home because each time it feels like I put on my old uniform and nothing has changed When we go out, I can’t speak up When I see neighbors, I must play the part again I am never myself, but the version I loathed so much before I tried to get rid of her, Hide all evidence, and move on But each time, all my progress disappears And I become nothing more than an actor, a liar, a miserable puppet
Self-Acceptance Debbie A Society is to blame for the birth of your first instinct, which was to apologize for who you are Society is to shame for the years it took to develop the habit of accepting who you are. Admittedly, it was a long road to get there You had to stop inventing new names and building castles of lies Because an American middle name sounded sweeter rolling off the tongue And all you wanted was a waterfall of golden curls. People’s comments and the media led you to write protagonists that were only ever white; Outnumbered in your school, on your street The twisted branches of a family tree forged from fate. All where you avoided discussion of race at all costs, Since the last thing you wanted was to get up and shout When it was clear the best thing for you was to whisper. Refusing to wear makeup for a spell, you claimed confidence And hid behind arrogance instead, When it took so long to master eyeliner with a monolid and you knew your friends couldn’t relate. Now, you’ve seen diversity celebrated in magazines and movies and malls and felt so much Hope despite, despite, despite. You and your characters shatter stereotypes, you wing your eyeliner like armor Yes, there are still days you slap on a too-wide smile as a band-aid to your insecurity But you stare back defiantly at your reflection now and that makes all the difference Self-acceptance did not come overnight But it was worth the fight.
A Beautiful View Sabrina Josephson DAY 8 Climb the floors As far up as you can go Walk out into the gold There’s a beautiful view Up here You find a little pretty Enough to brighten your day DAY 37 It’s burning red Layered mountains of blue Descending into A volcano of red DAY 83 The day is dark Angry enough That you can’t see anything But bits of pink Bleeding through a world of blue Someone once told me That the sky gets prettier As it gets more polluted I’ve loved staring at the sky Watching the world explode In different bursts of light
I like the pretty Who wouldn’t? I like climbing the floors To bathe in golden light I like sitting Watching the sun Leave sight ISSUE #6
But I can sacrifice the pretty I can sacrifice the golden light The hours spent Sitting Watching If I could clear the air Immediately What a beautiful view That Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve found I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want
Sabrina Josephson SPRING 2020
Second Hand Smoke Caitlyn “Cat” Snell I still recall the bright and burning night, The sun extinguished, snuffed with city smog, Unbalanced, lingers on a Camel Light, The source of drifting wisps of curling fog. Her lungs, they wither, coaxed by smoke’s shy hand, A tarnished body captive under stress, Relief is lavish priced and payment stands, Exchanged is life for moments pressure-less. Addictions kicked, though bar exception this, A vice and crutch and also holy psalm, Devoted close to nic and me such kiss, Forgive the habits toxic done by mom. From smoke in second-hand, fond pasts do spring, Across any distance, her to me, brings. 14
Don’t Look At Me Sophia Fox i don’t like the idea that someone can look at me and be attracted to me i can’t control what other people think of me i know i asked for someone to fall in love with me but i changed my mind i don’t want it to be him i don’t want it to be you please leave me alone i do want someone to like me like that but not someone new i don’t have anyone of old that i want like that but i am not satisfied with anyone new i am not satisfied with anything that happens it’s too much i’m not used to boys liking me i’m not used to turning people down i don’t like sending breakup texts to boys i’ve known for three days because they fell harder than i did and i got scared i want to be in love but i want it to be effortless
Power Outage Taylor Hunsaker The street is dark, and the moon is a glob of cottage cheese. Three girls pass street vendors selling dachshunds, 100% cashmere pineapple, and honey-roasted postcards. Policemen direct traffic with Christmas tree garland, singing opera to the man who doesn’t stop when signaled to. The girls are running to catch their 10:16 pm donkey heading eastbound. They are late. It is 9:43 am. “I’m so hungry,” says the tall girl wearing her grandma’s mini-skirt, paired with her dead dog’s sweater. “We’ve been walking for hours, and you all didn’t let me stop at any of the food carts.” The tall girl sits down on one of the coconut trees that line the sidewalk. “Well,” the tall girl’s plump friend holding her piranha’s bowl—missing Anna the piranha—replies, “that’s because you’re dressed in your Sunday best. Any experienced vendor would upcharge you.” “Oh,” the tall girl murmurs. “You have to be smarter about these things. I’m experienced. I did grow up in Missouri, you know,” she states. While the piranha’s pet is speaking about her street proficiencies, the third girl, who has gone unnoticed due to the comforter wrapped around her head, stubs the pinky toe of the girl carrying the piranha’s bowl. The bowl drops to the ground, vibrating and making a boing sound. Water spills out onto the sidewalk and into the street, filling up the entire block. The girls float up as the water level rises. Vendors anchor their carts with cashmere pineapple, discarding their old products to sell floaties and pool noodles. The girl without the piranha’s bowl and the girl 16
wrapped in a comforter are at first disappointed, but then realize that they can now swim home. They have already missed their donkey. The policemen float in survival position, as instructed in their handbook. Ms. Piranha and comforter head passed the policemen, doing a breaststroke all the way to Walgreens on 23rd St.Coming up for air, the girls notice that the tall girl is no longer with them. The tall girl clings to a lamppost, crying, not having moved from where the piranhaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bowl was dropped. Her tears cannot be seen through the water and darkness that encompass her. She fears that her dead dog will be so upset that the water has stretched out his sweater. She hears low growling from hell. suffocated Jessica Mannhaupt SPRING 2020
Mary Needs a Break Sophia Fox Mary needs a break. We have demanded everything from her. Not only that she be perfect, but also that she creates perfection. Mary cannot make a mistake. We say she can, because she is human, but she canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t because she is Mary.
She is the Virgin Mother. She did what women are supposed to do create life without doing what women are not supposed to do explore life She remains pure and untainted without the sin of touch. And so we worship her. How can I be like you, Mary? You are human. It is possible to do what you have done, go where you have gone, but I cannot follow you. No one has asked of me what they have asked of you You have toiled and labored because you were asked to do so. You surrendered your autonomy because you were asked to do so. You raised us all. You reared each and every one of us because you were asked to do so. Your will was ours to bend, ours to break, and you let us, because we asked you to do so. I do not blame you for allowing us to hurt you. I have never heard of a woman denying someone elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wishes.
Blinded Madeline Armstrong Not long after this, the ducks refused to see. Pouring acid on their retinas, super gluing the lids shut. A stolen goat opens his sack, pleading for change. More acid. A lonely flower struggles to breathe. More glue. The ducks’ noses, hooked to the heavens, are better, than the goat’s nose. Better, than the flower’s nose. The ducks turn into chickens, then into crows, eyes more acidic, noses longer. The goat shrinks. The flower dies. One crow steps forward, specks of glue crumble to the floor. The nose lowers, tears of acid sporadically drip. Finally, now it can see, but it’s too late.
let me be free
Gorgon Revisited Maggie Hurley The young woman pressed her hands on the stone steps of the temple, sobbing with all her might as she hoisted herself up. Blood stained her dress, her legs, her hands, her feet, and the white marble floor. Defiled. A strangled noise clawed its way out of her throat and hissed in an echo in the empty chamber. Brutalized in her lady’s sanctuary. She clawed at her face, at her eyes. She wanted blindness; she wanted solitude. She had no desire to see, to stare at her lady’s face in the carved stone. She tripped and stumbled onto the cold platform. The blood on her feet left a bloody trail to where she laid. Not only had she been dirtied, but so had her lady’s temple. It had been an honor above all others, to be chosen to be a maiden in the temple. To pledge her life and maidenhood to the goddess. She had wept the day she had been chosen, but those were pearly drops of joy. The tears she wept onto the platform floor today were tears of nothing less than despair. Gritting her teeth, she dragged herself up and shuffled to the reflecting pool. Her reflection was that of a monster, bloodied and scared. She longed to dive in and clean herself, but that was a forbidden domain now. She plunged downwards, slamming her knees against the marble and stared at her reflection. Her nails were now jagged and cracked from the attack, but she paid no mind to the pain as she clawed at her face. She wanted to scrape away every bit he had touched. Her legs were raw from all the clawing and scratching. Her face was sticky and smelled of salt from the tears that would no longer fall. “My lady,” she whispered, drawing her knees to her chest. Cold wind blew through the temple, 22
and as it hit the skin showing through the tears in her gown, a violent shiver rippled down her body. Gasping for breath, she curled in further on herself. “My lady, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” Her mouth repeated the words until she barely knew what she was saying. Her body slumped to the side, and her bare arm hit the cold marble floor. She kept repeating her apology in an almost prayer, lips moving ceaselessly until her eyes drifted shut. She was awoken by a warm touch. With a jolt, she shot up, scrambling away from the presence. “I’m sorry,” a voice as warm as the touch spoke. “I didn’t mean to startle you, my child.” The voice belonged to a woman older than herself, by no more than fifteen years. The stranger wore a deep brown dress and clutched a veil of the same color and material around her dark curls. The stranger was beautiful for sure, but nothing worth writing songs about. The most striking thing about the strange woman before her was her bright, gleaming eyes. Those were certainly song worthy. “Who—who are you?” The stranger smiled. The smile did not quite reach her silver eyes, but there was a genuine warmth behind it. Yes, warmth. “I merely desire to pray for the tragedy that occurred in this hall,” the stranger said. She gulped. “How do you know of such an occurrence?” “My child, look at you,” the stranger gasped. There was a deep pain in the stranger’s voice. It did not fit with the stranger’s appearance to sound so saddened. “Tragedy is SPRING 2020
written upon your face.” The stranger’s hand reached out to touch her face. “I am truly, deeply sorry he did this to you.” “My lady’s temple,” she whispered. “This land is—it is meant to be holy, consecrated. My lady is eternally a maiden. To do such a thing…” She trailed off. Her jaw quivered and tears sprang in her eyes once more. “Don’t cry, my child,” the stranger whispered, flicking the tears off her face. “He will be punished for his crimes, but you have nothing to atone for.” She stared at the stranger. The stranger’s eyes gleamed gray in the hazy morning light. There was an ancient knowledge in those eyes. A gasp lodged itself in her throat. “My—my lady?” she whispered. The goddess smiled once more. “My heart aches for you, my child.” “Please, my lady,” she said. “I’m sorry.” “I heard your cries,” the goddess said. She reached out and smoothed down a wild curl. “Tell me, do you desire protection from the bitter, vile ways of men?” “I do.” Her voice was still raspy and raw, painful from all the screaming and sobbing. “I will protect you,” the goddess vowed. “And no man will ever hurt you again.” The goddess pressed two fingers to her forehead. Her eyes fluttered shut at the sensation of the goddess’s power coursing through her veins. It was crippling, and she was grateful she had not been standing or surely she would have fallen to her knees. Her mouth twisted into a painful grimace, though no sound passed through her lips. Whatever protection her lady was bestowing upon her hurt, but it was far from the most painful thing she had experienced. 24
And then, it all stopped. Power—a different power than the one her lady possessed—rippled through her, swirling around her bones. Her teeth were sharp in her mouth now, as if meant to be bared, and her hair had a mind of its own, slithering around her neck and shoulders. “Stand, my child,” the goddess whispered, “and kneel for no man ever again.”
Cecilia Gray SPRING 2020
identity issues Sam Whitman itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s embarrassing having to lay it out vulgar and bare like a dropped thong on the floor of a communal laundry room this is what you made me when you dragged me out by the cord around my neck and broke me on the hard planes of the hospital bed I am my motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughter and my fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s son; I am the wind in trees and blood on cotton and cold at your window here I am now circling the drain (this is a coming out) (again) the way I best like to see myself is in the dark, dragging my palms over the cool, empty glass of the mirror.
big boobs? Sophia Fox Your big dick is such a small part of your personality but that’s all you’ve shown me so what am I supposed to think of you?
The Waltz Taylor Hunsaker Pale, pink, tulle tutus float backstage. Her skin holds a fine layer of white powder, her eyes are lined with grace, allure, and power. With a smirk and plump lips, she seems beyond her age. Her chest expanding into the fastened bodice, she runs out to the brightly lit fantasy. The voices call this muse Insanity. She dreams of being nothing short of a goddess. For a moment, applause shakes her from a haze, though the audience’s faces are blank slates. Inside her mind are mouse traps lined with cobwebs; she sets up for failure so that she shines when praised. Expecting gratification, she hopes and anticipates. But when the house clears, her pleasure ebbs.
Passing By Isabelle Jensen Some days, the mirror is a roadblock It stops me in my tracks It holds me back Other days, it is just a mirror Something to walk by A reflection of the world On good days, it is a spectacle It is confidence in a frame I want more of those days
I shouldn’t drink T Kosek Last night I drank. I know I shouldn’t drink, but I wanted to feel young. I’m finally 21, and getting my life in order, just in time for my body to fail me. I shouldn’t drink. It just felt so good— for that brief moment to not be in pain. To not worry about everything, and know that I’ll be okay, just this once. I shouldn’t drink. My family doesn’t have a good relationship with alcohol, but it feels so good. It felt so good to let go, drinking more tasted worse, but felt better. As I neared the end of the drink, I felt freed— freed from the pain; freed from the constant thoughts— the whispers reminding me to think. I know I shouldn’t drink.
My Sister and I Never Shared Clothes Sabrina Josephson it’s a quintessential moment of sisterhood to share clothes with each other but i’ve never experienced that outside of matching outfits my mother chose i wish i could offer an excuse as to why i missed out on something TV shows and books and life make seem like an everyday event but i can’t my sister and i have similar tastes enough for her to trust that i can buy new clothes for her and for me to trust her opinion implicitly and i can’t blame her i’m the first and she would wear my clothes if she wouldn’t have to swim in them i’m trying to change it returning to the matching outfit days i forced us to grow out of ages ago and i’m trying to fix it so that my leg isn’t the size of her waist i’m trying to and i’m failing with every attempt to make it so she can steal my clothes 30
Almost Empty Madeline Armstrong I was taught to pray. Shivering, naked, in the cold, I run. With every malevolent rock that embeds itself in my bare foot, I know I’m, Alone. With every sickening whip that thrashes against my filth-covered back, I know I’m, Alone. With every burning tear that streaks down my hollowed-out cheeks, I know I’m Alone. There isn’t a shred of hope in my empty skull that someone is “watching over me.” Still, I drag my body, frail and withered to my knees, and I pray. Just in case.
An Open Letter To my Period Cecilia Gray You’re a bitch; dare I say a bloody brat! You’re a friend whose relationship with me is truly one-sided. You never talk or ask how I’m doing; you just show up — never on time, typically unannounced, and always unwanted. You make me sick, quite literally. You ask — no… demand that I cancel all of my plans just so that I can sit in misery with you. I get it. Trust me; I really do. You made this plan in your head, with all of your hopes and dreams, and now you’re disappointed in me. You’re livid that I have not lived up to your expectations. But, here’s the thing: you never fucking asked me! If you were a good friend, you would know that I’ve got plans that don’t involve you or a child. You would cut me a break, not kick me while I’m down. And I always seem to be down when you’re around. I must ask: When is enough? When will you realize that we are not friends; you are an intruder? We met when I was 12, and it’s going to take decades before you get the hint. But please… I’m begging you to just give me a date, so I can plan for a better life without you, period.
The Flag Aissatou Ndiour
you see my symbol of identity as a symbol of war you hear my desires to kill intolerance as desires to sin you view my love as worthy of shame you know my voice as the devil’s whisper you say that I’ll eventually be punished for the way that I am, as if the way that you look at me isn’t punishment enough you can love me, regardless of who I love my love won’t kill you, but your hatred kills me. SPRING 2020
Fixing a Dragon Isabelle Jensen Somedays I am grateful that women are no longer just damsels in distress But I am hesitant when girls claim themselves as knights They dive into a man eager to save him from the dragon inside. They like a â&#x20AC;&#x153;projectâ&#x20AC;? Always wanting someone to fix But we cannot save someone not ready to be saved Your need to be needed should not supersede your need to survive The dragon is not afraid to take you down with him He is a carnivore that does not discriminate He is your project and you are his meal Do not be consumed Do not trust Toxicity runs beneath those scales The poison may come in many shades Careful, red flags look like bleeding hearts His need for control is not excused by insecurity His anger and jealousy are not cute His lack of effort is not something to work on Your armor will melt from his fire Please leave the dragon alone His problems are not yours You cannot slay or fix him Find a prince or princess who can save themself Forget dragons exist Rule your kingdom
Pleasure is All Mine Kristina Fortunato Never leave your pleasure in the pocket of a man. It will be cracked, chipped, forgotten in the jumble of keys, phone, wallet, mint, lint, the endless depths of a void of denim. The pockets of women aren’t large enough to squeeze an I love you in so don’t attempt to leave your pleasure with her; there’s no place for pleasure there. Keep your pleasure in your own hands. Ensure that it’s protected as it should be.
Sophia Fox SPRING 2020
Wash, Rinse, Repeat Cecilia Gray Strip off your clothes, the ones that have been speaking for you all day Turn up the water as high as it goes Cry under the shower head until I say so Stand there: burning heat rolling over your skin And wash away what feels like a sin Wash off the comments, the gazes, and the touches Wash away the attention that makes bile rise in your throat Send it back down, Wash it away with tears, Why are men the source of all your fears You’re not afraid of death, or the world ending, You’re afraid of the man whose eyes follow you as you walk away, Afraid of the man who tries to give you his number just so at 2 am, he can text you “hey” Afraid of the man who grabs your arm even after you tell him to go away You are safe right now, no one has touched you, So stand in the shower until your fears melt away, along with the filth and grime that’s haunting your skin Let your tears mix with the water until you can’t distinguish the two Until you are just standing there, and you feel brand new Enjoy the feeling of the hot water on cold, clammy skin, Because one day even that freedom might be stripped from you
Cecilia Gray SPRING 2020
Let Me Rest Sabrina Josephson step 1: take my hand, lead me up the stairs step 2: open my door, i will follow whichever way the wind takes me step 3: fold back the quilt, only a little itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not inviting; but it is step 4: let me sit, sink into the mattress until i feel safe enough step 5: watch my eyes close, watch my breath comes easier than it did before step 6: you can leave now you know the way out step 7: let me rest
A Big Fuck You
My Cage Madeline Armstrong I step out of my Cage and a knife escapes her mouth. It chops my hair first; uneven, jagged strands frame my face. It goes for the clothes next, ripping holes in my hand-me-down jeans, slicing my stained, faded, Guns Nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Roses T-shirt. She shoves the knife back down her throat. I step back into my Cage, and nod complacently. Tired of this, she kicks the Cage over, the knife shooting, from her lips. It slices my legs to shreds. Blood oozes slowly from the fragments that were once my arms.
Finished, her knife fades to dust, but the cool metallic taste of a knife slips from my mouth. My instincts launch it at her. Every time my knife rips into her, it rips into me too. My small, cramped Cage lays toppled on the floor, beckoning me. I drag my mangled body back inside those forbidding bars. The pain stops and the knife vanishes. My body heals, my hair grows, my clothes re-form. I look up and there she is, smiling and chatting frivolously, like nothing happened. But it did.
Have Hope Debbie A To speak plainly, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s getting scary out there The world is on fire and all we can do is watch the flames surge higher The leaders are misleading The icecaps are receding The news feeds are bleak The unity among us is weak I want to burrow under the covers and ignore this battle raging on We are a fragile, fragile country dangling by the thinnest of threads I grew up in a world of knowledge at my fingertips but no real answers And it seems everybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lost their heads But I keep hope tucked in my back pocket The last weapon Pandora managed to secure Love will always carry us through This, I know for sure.
Trapped by the System
GROWL’S VISION Growl is a collaborative magazine presented by the Hofstra English Society and Campus Feminist Collective. We believe that there is power in the written word and in artwork, and we exist to offer students a platform on which they may creatively express their feelings regarding social issues and advocacy. Our mission is to uplift voices that encourage equality, inclusivity, and diversity. Our subject matter includes gender and gender identity, sexuality, race, religion, mental health, body image, politics, and social (in)equality in hopes of empowering historically marginalized voices and topics.
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COVER ART “Acid Rain” Emily Ewing