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Loving An Anthology

33 Contributors edited by Jeevika Verma


Loving is an anthology curated and designed by jeevika verma. it was released on the internet as a digital issue on february 14, 2018. the 33 contributors to the anthology hold complete rights to their work as it appears in this issue. tw: some pieces in this anthology cover subjects of death, drug overdoze, and/ or depression. please contact jeevika at www.jeevikav.com with comments or feedback.


“All, we’re gathered here today because each one of you submitted a love letter to this anthology. Thank you for making the time to be here, so we can share our work with each other. So first, let’s hear from — ” and then she woke up


Letter From The Editor i had a dream. i was up on stage, at a podium. around me: countless other podiums. my friends: each taking an independent stance at a mic. copies of the same book in front of us. apparently, i had curated an anthology of some sort. a reading. the theme? love. i introduced us, and as the first contributor began to read their submission… i woke up. naturally, i immediately texted my friends. would they be interested in a little project that had come to me in a dream? would they join me in loving? if they felt stuck, i was here to help create, edit, polish. i was here for them. i was here for love. as you’ll see, some of these pieces are deeply romantic. some kinda cheesy. some funny. many hurt. then there’s those that rip your heart out and hold you tight when you cry afterward. love: it’s complicated. it’s extraoridinary. all my thanks go to the 33 beautiful contributors that made my dream — literally — come true. there is no greater joy than being able to bring art into the world, and i am both priveleged and honored to be able to play my small part. all yours, jeevika


Contents layers selly sallah

1.

for daisy doodle, my dog izzy boutiette

2.

across ages and across spaces palashika bhat

4.

love-evol taj taher

6.

seeking air michelle meyering

12.

untitled erin sofinowski

14.

open letter to dad roxana gomez

15.

momentum julie van

17.

i have held jocelyn beausire

18.

early departure, late arrival sarayu nanda kumar

20.

my magic eye cali kopczick

21.

fig and wasp angelina caplanis

24.

lullaby for bunny remy morritt

26.

thank you for shelby burns

28.

untitled shreya tewari

29.

74 averly tan

34.

on the firebird gena fazel

35.

pain killer sarah muir

36.

trains krishang swami

39.

the sight of our love lines katie priest

40.

crushed velvet eleanor cummins

42.

with patience comes positivity anushree shukla

45.

LDR, self love malia imayama

48.

nocturnes sam tezak

49.


how not to love pranav shivanna

54.

four photos tyler thompson

56.

for my nephew alia marsha kusumaningrat

58.

cohabitation vows haylee milikan

60.

i choose you mackenzie roberts

63.

“peace and blesings” partha vaidya

68.

scrape it like malai eman rahman

70.

reverence charlie louise jones

73.

“i think i love me more than anything” erika mann

75.

self care selly sallah

78.


Loving


Layers Selly Sallah

1.


For Daisy Doodle, My Dog Izzy Boutiette

New years was a tense moment for the both of us. You, quivering on the floor of my room, set off by the constant booming that could have been the end of the world as far as you were concerned. Me, quivering on my bed, unable to focus properly. He, clearly not a dog person, we could tell by the way he begged to put a door between us. It was a misunderstanding of purpose: letting you watch was not my kink, but my duty. The collective Us had caused you to be in this state of apocalyptic expectation and I could not let you suffer from unknowing, leave you lone in fear. But, alas, him and I were naked with the secret that we too are animals. We too howl at fullness. We too act with instinct and without reason. Besides thumbs, the only thing we have that you do not is what is private, and so naturally, the secret could not be exposed and that was just the way it had to be. In defeat I put the door between us, and each time you scratched the wood panels a guilt overcame me, a regret that built up in laughter, culminated in fireworks, a forced kiss, and then him crying, and without any real purpose except maybe for the sake of calibrating the mood I began crying, too, because I would rather be held than hold. The next day we packed you in the car and traced the circumference of the Marin Headlands and I was the Ashkenazi girl Jesus skating on water, the blue crush was all I could see and I did not cry this time but I felt something had shifted and a pit of grief welted inside me, a premonition of loneliness that maybe wasn’t a premonition at all. But at the very least that day,

2.


stuck in a 6 pm traffic jam emerging from the valley of the shore, I learned to love the lighthouse—a vision of refuge and solitude, crystallized against the edges of the sea.

3.


Across Ages and Across Spaces Palashika Bhat

“A spirit that lives in this world and does not wear the shirt of love, such an existence is a deep disgrace.� Rumi

4.


5.


Love-evoL Taj Taher

“You’re doing it again.” Tazetta froze, fingers spread through the hair on his head. His eyes jerked towards the laptop. An expression of such irritation was etched into the face displayed before him, he wondered whether the heat coming off the screen was being produced by the laptop or by her. An amused smile diffused across his mouth. “Doing what?” he asked innocently. “Playing with your hair,” Gunj growled. “Every time we Skype you’re constantly fixing it, trying to make it look a certain way.” “You can’t blame me for wanting to look good for my girlfriend.” She tilted her head and stared at him pointedly. “For me? I can see where your eyes are pointed. They’re not looking towards me. They’re always focused on that corner of the screen that shows your own face.” Tazetta chuckled. “How do you know I haven’t switched it so your face is in the little corner box?” “Well that would mean that your face would take up most of the screen, only proving my point.” “Which is?” “That you enjoy staring at yourself more than at me!” Gunj shouted, throwing up her arms in the air. “We walk down the street together, I catch you checking yourself out in the reflection from the shop windows or passing cars.” “What? No way, I don’t do that,” he said, shaking his head. He absentmindedly reached to his forehead to 6.


brush away a strand of hair, but noticing the way her nostrils and eyes flared, he instead chose to feign an itch and scratched himself. “Can we just go back to talking? I want to hear more about…” “About what?” Gunj snapped. “About whatever we were talking about.” “Which was?” Tazetta stared at her blankly. Her mouth was a flat line, save for the slightest twitch at the edge – the crack in the dam portending a flood of invectives. Unable to maintain contact with her glare, his eyes drifted away from her face and landed upon his own. Goddamn it, he thought to himself. I just can’t get this hair to swoop to the side the way I want. Maybe I need to change the ratio of water to product when I – “TAZ!” He jumped in his chair, startled from his styling conundrum. “What?” he asked bemusedly. She shook her head, her steely gaze and frown blasting contempt at him with such radioactive potential he felt like shielding his eyes. She let him scorch for a solid minute before saying “I’m going to hang up now. When you’ve decided you can love me as much as your own damn reflection, you can call me back and I’ll maybe listen to an apology.” With that, she was gone, and Tazetta was left staring at their chat screen, without even his own face in the lower corner of the window to keep him company. He sighed, running his fingers through his hair one final time. Pulling himself out of his chair, he ambled over to the mirror on the wall. He placed both palms on either side of the mirror and leaned in close. Tazetta examined the contours of the face intensely looking back at him, following the angle of the jaw, 7.


across the hairs on the chin, up to the nose and the small blemish on its side. Then his eyes rested on the eyes in front of him and locked in. “Why do you always have to make life so complicated?” he asked his reflection. “You’re the one who decided to date her. I just follow along,” his reflection replied. Tazetta snorted. “Don’t pretend to be an innocent bystander. Whenever Gunj and I are together, you go out of your way to distract me.” He turned around, but before he’d taken more than a step towards his laptop, a voice from behind him called out “I do what I do because I’m looking out for us.” Tazetta whirled around and raised an accusatory finger at the man in the mirror, the man standing with his arms crossed and an amused expression on his face. “So you admit it!” Tazetta roared. “You are sabotaging my relationship with Gunj!” “No, I’m just expediting a process already in place.” “You think Gunj and I are going to break up?” “I certainly hope so, because I don’t just think – I know – that you’re unhappy.” Tazetta’s mouth hung open as he struggled to form an indignant response. His reflection chuckled. Tazetta shut his mouth and jutted his chin out. “It’s not that I’m unhappy. It’s more like…” “You’ve become indifferent,” his reflection completed, nodding knowingly. “Exactly! Thank you,” said Tazetta. He began to pace back and forth in front of the mirror while his reflection watched. “When we first started hanging out, I was genuinely excited to see her every time. I would look 8.


forward to it. Now spending time with her feels like an obligation.” “Is that normal? Do we become desensitized to the people who are regularly in our lives? Once the novelty of a new relationship has worn off, are we left without happiness?” his reflection prompted. “No, otherwise how would I maintain any of my other relationships? I see you everyday but I’m still happy when you’re here. I want you to be with me all the time,” Tazetta said as he continued to pace, appearing to focus more on his strides than the truth of his speech. “Tazetta, I’m flattered.” His reflection grinned widely, then said “So why continue this charade with Gunj?” Tazetta stopped in his tracks to turn towards the mirror. He thought for a moment before saying “We’ve been dating for this long. What does it say about me if I give up now?” “I don’t know. What does it say about you?” His reflection seemed lost in thought for a moment, then his eyes popped wide and he snapped his fingers. “Here, pretend you’re Gunj or anybody else, and pretend that I’m you. Now tell me what you think they would say to you.” His reflection opened his arms wide in invitation to begin firing. “Well…” Tazetta began, rolling and unrolling his fingers into a fist. Then he looked up at his reflection and said firmly “You’re an ass. You can’t just toss someone aside because you’re bored of them.” “Okay, well to be fair dating is about figuring out whether you can last in the long-run. Making things Facebook official isn’t the same as signing a marriage contract,” his reflection pointed out. “I think you’d be more 9.


of an ass if you kept stringing Gunj along when you knew your heart wasn’t in it. It would be kinder to cut things off now and let her find someone who really cares about her in that way.” “That makes sense,” Tazetta admitted, glancing down at the floor to ponder further. But then his head snapped back up and he said “If you break up with her, it proves you’re not mature enough to sustain a long-term relationship.” “HA!” his reflection barked, causing Tazetta to jump back in surprise. “Maturity? People in this world get married when they’re teenagers without giving a second thought to how they’re going to build a life together. It doesn’t matter though because they’re so in love,” his reflection said, stretching out the words and exaggerating the movements of his mouth and eyebrows. He sniffed dismissively, then continued “Or think about the opposite, people in arranged marriages who will carry out their long-term relationship until they die even if they’re completely miserable. Does that sound mature to you? If maturity was just a matter of persistence, then I guess every kid that picks away at a scab until it’s bloody should be allowed to vote and drive cars too.” Tazetta laughed and shook his head. “Gross, but I think I see what you’re saying.” “Good,” his reflection declared, nodding firmly once. “Because at the end of the day, we don’t have to prove ourselves to anyone. We don’t owe anyone anything. All that matters is that we’re happy.” “Isn’t that selfish though?” “Selfish people only do things for the individual,” his reflection asserted. “You’re looking out for me. I’m 10.


looking out for you.” His reflection raised one finger, then another next to it. “If I’m calculating correctly, one plus one makes two.” Tazetta breathed a sigh of relief and finally allowed the tension in his shoulders to ease. “Yes, you’re right. That makes sense. Wow, this makes me feel so much better. Thank you.” His reflection waved him away. “You don’t have to thank me.” Tazetta shook his head and approached the mirror. “No, I really do. You seem to really understand me better than anyone else. And I feel like I can really trust you, you know? I have no problem with being completely open with you.” His reflection smiled, shrugging his shoulders. “I have always been with you, and I’m always going to be here for you.” “Yes, you have,” Tazetta said, placing both palms on either side of the mirror and leaning in close towards his reflection once more. “And I’m starting to realize that the person I’ve been looking for has been right in front of me my entire life.” His reflection leaned in closer too. “Always looking right back.” Tazetta and Attezat closed their eyes, felt first the warmth of their breaths combine and then the cool touch of their lips pressing against one another. They stepped back, and in unison whispered “I love you.”

11.


Seeking Air

Michelle Meyering Nov. 4, 2016 My doctor writes, “She is generally apathetic about whether or not she stays alive.” She doesn’t know how hard it was to get here. Dec. 4, 2016 I have taken 150mg of bupropin for twenty-nine days now. My insides are made of bees. I’m always cold. May 15, 2017 My life falls apart for the third time. We are fragile. Oct. 31, 2017 My therapist asks me why I find it hard to trust fully. I don’t trust anyone because I don’t believe that anyone could really love me. Nov. 8, 2017 I told my boyfriend that I would periodically ask him if everything is okay with us. He just has to answer yes or no. His answer is always yes. Nov. 8, 2017 He loves me.

12.


Dec. 12, 2017 “Do you really not see anything good about yourself?� She makes me list the good qualities I have. I only list two things before I start crying. Jan. 19, 2018 I spend the weekend alone for the first time in months. I create space. So this is self-care? Jan. 22, 2018 I allowed myself to try for the first time. I can breathe. Breathe.

13.


Untitled

Erin Sofinowski

14.


Open Letter To Dad Roxana Gomez Dear Dad, I’ve been really angry lately. Angry at myself for not calling you more. Angry at my mom for finding any reason to yell at me. Angry at my brothers for being quick to dismiss my feelings. Angry at our family friends for asking too many questions—especially at the wrong time. But I’m most angry at the 4 men who murdered you, at the people who walked past the crime scene and didn’t call for help, and at the police for not serving justice to those men despite the recorded visual confirmation of their faces. I’m so so so angry. But I don’t want to be angry. It’s so exhausting to be this angry. You didn’t teach me to be this way. You taught me to love. You taught me to work hard. You taught me to fight for what is right. I don’t want to be this angry, but I can’t help but feel this way when I realize you now will never be able to walk me the aisle at my wedding or meet your grandchildren. I’m angry that you worked your entire life for others without getting to see the world for yourself. I’m angry, but I don’t want to be angry. I want to believe that people are good, passionate and loving. I want to believe that no human would take the life of another. I want to believe that there is justice in this world. I genuinely want to believe these things, but I’ve 15.


been let down. I’ve been let down by a country whose justice system is easily bought to keep quiet. I’ve been let down by people who we thought were our friends, but then turned their backs on us. I’ve been let down by the fact that my first love is no longer with me, to support me, hug me and make me laugh. I’m angry, but I don’t want to be angry. I want to laugh and cry tears of happiness, like when I graduated from college and you told me how proud you were of me. I’m angry, but I don’t want to be angry. I want love. I want to feel it, give it, and breathe it again. I want to share the emotion you shared with me all your life. I want to love again. It is commonly said that time heals all wounds. I think it’s safe to say that time will never be able to fill the current void I have in my heart. I do hope that time eliminates this anger I feel. I don’t want it. I want to love. Sincerely, Roxana, tu princesa.

16.


Momentum Julie Van

I felt it in my lungs, the stirring of liberation. Full-moon face presses the breath of lavender an unwinding of a venn diagram awakens a life yet realized. In an unfurnished studio apartment, only toilet paper and a six pack of beer. Giving up grapefruit crystal nights would be a waste of precious sky. I almost forgot how to dance in glass sleeves. Do you recall moving with persimmon skin & honeycomb kisses? To let the ocean rise into this body is to begin anew. At this week’s market buy two dozen tulips the shade of long-awaited spring. And don’t apologize for the rain. Return to the bend between cheeks, the light of a three-wick sunrise. Winter-weighed eyes at four in the morning, I have always dreamt enough for two. The stomach is a sensitive spot as nothing often pierces there. The four of wands is a celebration. The air is finally pure. 17.


I Have Held Jocelyn Beausire

Mine is taut above and between my eyes and between my fingers. The outer limits of my inner system, the farthest reaches of pleasingly-coated keratin, still smelling of alcohol and generic-brand lotion that they buy in large quantities. It is dry in some and sticky in other, places. More frequently now the contentedness I used to feel lying within it makes me nauseous. I clamber up and down the faces of others, small eye-tips prying fingers inside their lids, hoping to understand the blueness. It is not infinite. It makes me finite too, their desire. You cannot want something you do not think you comprehend, at least partially. People love what they can hold in their wet palms, and I hold you. And turn you over to see your pink belly, pressing gently with my smallest nail on the softness, mmm. Does it hurt? The story comprises of two parts but they are like the couple eating the spicy Korean soup that always makes me cry. She sits with her mouth open and black, glowing over. He spoons into her the steam and his mouth is wide and toothy and open, tasting nothing, but with his eyes her clean white neck that moves too fast to keep up. Consume the other and spit out the fat and cartilage, it is not part of the definition of the animal. I know the shape of a rabbit without knowing what noise its feet make on wet grass.

18.


Beyond some place I know more than what fits comfortably between my lips. The silence that stretches between pockmarked skin on a rainy day makes me hungry. I am a full yolk. I can feel the hollows within and around myself and not wonder if they should be filled, or what they should be filled with, and I can ease myself into steam and settle. Etched like the scar above my mother’s eye when she bathed him. I consume it before it can consume. White porcelain and the sound of rising water. Floating, my ears absorb space and I fill it with the roundness of my small belly. It is bright beyond the limits of my vision, but she is clear. The thin line, below the eyebrow, slightly raised. She held it in her hands and sighed.

19.


Early Departure, Late Arrival Sarayu Nanda Kumar

I waited long for you, alright? And in that moment when you looked right into my eyes, I realized my lover who departed never arrived. 20.


My Magic Eye Cali Kopczick

One of the recurring images of my childhood, like a dream, is a red-winged blackbird clinging to one of the many cattails in the long ditch in front of the casino. Every other weekend my dad and I would sit there in the car listening to the birdcalls and waiting for my mother to show up. I only ever watched the birds with my father, because he is chronically early and my mother is chronically late. My trips with her to see my dad were usually soundtracked with a Harry Potter audiobook and a few frenzied questions about each other’s days. I don’t have a language for birds, but a program called The Music of Nature describes the male’s call as conk-lareee or oh-ka-leee. All I can add is that I could never process the two short, piping notes at the start before the longer, frantic vibration at the end took over. It’s the aural equivalent of a fender-bender, a tiny, gentle whiplash every time. We met at the casino because it was equidistant from my parents’ houses. My parents divorced when I was three, and when I was six my mom moved from Eastern Washington to Western Washington for work. My dad followed soon after so he could watch me grow up. My older brothers, his children from his first marriage, were about grown up themselves—they were graduating high school and getting married already. It’s easy to say that I needed him more, though I still don’t know if it’s right. 21.


Here’s one thing scientists have to say about motivation: it’s especially potent when the reward is inconsistent. If you give a rat a pellet every time it presses a lever, it will eventually grow less interested in the lever. It’ll take a pellet when it needs, sure, but it’s nothing special. If, on the other hand, you make the reward unpredictable, the rat will keep pressing and pressing the lever. It never knows when the next payout is going to be. It could be this lever-press, or this, and, just when the rat is tired and ready to give up, here comes a burst of hope tumbling down the chute. This is how slot machines work. The same can be true for love. One way of thinking about infatuation is limerence. The term was coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov, who described romantic obsession as a dynamic balance between hope and uncertainty. They love you, they love you not. That laughter was a sign—that they think you’re enchantingly funny or maybe that they think you’re an idiot. You have to keep coming back for the reward or the suspense to find out. You hope that the laugh is a pellet tumbling down the tube, but until you’re certain, you have to keep pressing the lever. Limerence takes its root lime from a general term for stickiness. Historically, birdlime is a gluey substance that hunters have smeared on branches and reeds to trap birds. Every other weekend, when I watched the red-winged blackbird ride the cattail like a microphone and sat in that most interstitial of spaces, I felt myself stuck in an ache for home. Sharing a blanket with my mom in front of the TV and seeing a commercial that reminded me of my dad. Going for

22.


a walk with my dad and realizing with a pang that I’d zoomed ahead with my mom’s powerwalker gait. Even my older siblings (from both of my parents’ marriages), who would pull me out of school, buy me Klondike bars and play soccer with me, dangle me upside-down by my ankles and make me read White Fang, could only do those things when they were around, which they mostly weren’t by the time I was old enough to notice. They were getting jobs, getting married, moving out or at least moving into the garage. I was left absolutely certain that I was loved, but that love was irreconcilably fragmented. Like most ways of talking about love, the term broken home is melodramatic and clichéd. It also covers up the way any upbringing feels normal while you are being brought up, but I do think it’s useful to pay attention to how a family works as separate pieces told that they should form a whole. I didn’t grow up in some slasher film’s spiderwebbed mirror so much as a mosaic that had been placed piece by piece at a distance from every other part of itself. My hunger has always been for the whole, for that Magic Eye space where you unfocus and see the picture it makes together. Is there really something more? What’s the real picture, the fractal ooze of pink and yellow, or the feather that pops out when you cross your eyes?

23.


Fig And Wasp Angelina Caplanis

I. insects have short lives. rarely do they live after mating. for example. male fig wasps are born inside the fig. they mate with their sisters. dig a tunnel by eating from inside fig to out but. they do not leave. they were born without wings. the sisters search for a male fig fruit. in which to lay eggs. she eats from outside fig to in but. her wings break off as she does so. as her mother did. the fig is a fruit is a flower. petals furl inside itself. the fig needs the wasp for pollination. there is no way. for a female fig wasp to know if she has reached a male or female fig. if she digs into a female fig. there is no space to lay her offspring. she dies without children. all is not lost though. in the end this mistake. is supposed to happen. by burrowing into a female fig she pollinates it. I wonder. if she knows when she flies. she flies to her death. I wonder. if she knows. her life brings life. always. 24.


II. at home. there are two fig trees in the yard. they produce fruit nearly all year long. though in the spring their branches are. particularly laden. I sit on a red brick wall. waiting for my mother. peeling into a purple fig. milk runs down my hands. drips to my thighs. my skin etiolated in a dark winter. I live somewhere cold now. away from my mother. I run my tongue up my forearm. licking the fig’s sticky sweet milk. seeds. smaller than that of pomegranates. is it sweeter now that I know how it is this fruit came to be? I squint into the sun. dangle my legs. heavier than last year. I bite into a second fig. I am happier than I’ve been. pale and soft. body puckered and ribbed like fruit. a car comes into the driveway. my mother with groceries. we carry bags inside the house. I can see my mother as an entity now. more than mother. children do not have that sense of mothers as women. people. who have made sacrifices. at the end of the day. after she cooks. after she cleans. without help or thanks. at the end of the day. she rests her body. so very much like mine. I hand her a bowl of washed figs. the purple ones I picked earlier. I wonder if she is happier than she’s been and. kiss her on the cheek. I wonder if she knows. her life brings life. always. 25.


26.


Lullaby For Bunny Remy Morritt

This is a lullaby dedicated to my late grandmother. It can be sung a capella, or with any amount of instrumental accompaniment. Marjorie Adele Gray was my mother’s mother, the true matriarch of the whole family. Beautiful, hilarious, intelligent, and sharp – even until just days before she passed. I was in awe of her youthfulness, and the ease at which she recalled every detail of her nearly ninety-four years. She was never old-fashioned, and she always kept herself up to date. Selfless and sweet. She was Marji. Yet, she chose me. Something inexplicable, a wordless connection. A loving and particular bond I won’t forget. When she passed, I didn’t see her. I didn’t want to. I had only been gone a few days. I couldn’t be there. I think she wanted it that way. This lullaby is for her, the one who I see in my dreams. A melody to pass on until my own voice goes quiet. Then, I will wake and see her once again.

27.


Thank You For Shelby Burns

Thank you for

Thank you for

loving

teaching

Thank you for

Thank you for

laughing

encouraging

Thank you for being 28.


Untitled

Shreya Tewari 812pm. okay so we said 8ish so it’s still within reason i guess but also seriously, he is the one who even suggested this time so like how hard is it to just say 815 or 830 if that’s what you actually meant? why did i even agree to this i totally should have just stayed home no you are getting out there and doing things and this is healthy and important but i mean this is such a waste of time though but no it’s not and it’s good that you came just relax ok why does that person in the back have the most annoying laugh of all time. i mean i guess i didn’t have to get here at 743 and wander the block until walking in at exactly 759 but at least i got a table. it’s much better to be like already oriented and have a spot and be relaxed and set up and calm when they walk in so this is good. or should i have wandered until i was sure he was inside so that i seemed like a busier person? is it cooler to be the person who comes in second and be all breezy like hey whatever glad you found a spot and did all the work look at me just rolling in from somewhere else ugh no, no it’s fine. it’s cool. this shows a respect for people, for their time, and in a bigger sense, for time as a concept. i’m so meta wow he better appreciate it. sipping my water. confidence. 817pm. um he hasn’t even sent like a “be there in five” or “running late” text, what exactly is the deal right now. 29.


should i just order a drink because i can’t just sit in a bar drinking water for like 40 minutes the waitress has asked me like four times already and she clearly needs the table if i’m not going to order. but if i order it then how slowly should i drink it like how long am i even trying to wait for this guy like am i supposed to just sit here and sip it slowly so that i’m not most of the way through a cocktail by the time he gets here and pretend like i just ordered it or something? or should i just drink it however i want to drink it because who cares about him and i’m going to do what i want because i’m a grown ass woman or should i just like leave or should i text him and ask when he’s coming and decide based on his response? when did it get so crowded in here wow my head hurts a little who even suggested this place. 818pm. shit i’m the one who suggested it i was trying to be hip. 820pm. ugh ok. is that him? it totally is he is literally wearing that same shirt in one of his pictures. unbelievable. no text, nothing. just waltzes in at 820 as if it wasn’t closer to 830 than it was to to 8. how dare he. i have self-respect right? should i just call him out? like this isn’t worth it who even is he. but also i waited this entire time and then if i call him out then where does that leave us, do i have to like leave after that and have truly wasted the past 45 minutes or then do i just sit here with that weird vibe from me criticizing his lateness and then have to try to make normal conversation again after that? 30.


haha no worries i just got here too! i hear myself say, in response to his nonapologetic comment about being a little late. good thing i didn’t order the drink it would totally have blown my cover for how long i’ve been here. okay good thinking nice. it’s gonna be fine it'll be fun. people are late sometimes life happens it’s okay just let it go. positive mindset. upbeat vocal tone. confidence. 840pm. how can someone’s life possibly be so uninteresting. is it possible to answer that many open-ended questions with just one word? how does he have nothing else to say i am being so fun literally all he has to do is answer like just say anything besides YEAH or NO oh my god why is this happening. 848pm. did i just ask the same question i asked ten minutes ago? i can’t remember and obviously neither can he. i think he said yes last time and this time he somehow said no. did he? what is he nodding for? did i even say something? neither answer even makes sense to the original question am i literally destined for a life of solitude 853pm. a life of solitude might be kind of awesome. i could make it one of those cool artsy things where i like go on an adventure and make something cool out of it and make like a #coming of age #film omg i’ve always sort of wanted to do that anyway. damn am i closing myself off from my dreams by looking for a partner? am i not doing me? shit did he just try and initiate a question what was it 31.


854pm. i just said yeah and he seemed satisfied lord knows what he asked 900pm. i wish it was socially acceptable to just pause this nightmare, look at each other and go, honestly this is sucking right? can we both just leave? but he low-key looks like he's having fun… probably because i’m just talking to myself at this point and he’s just sitting there giggling and enjoying the benefits of my wit and humor. yeah. that’s right. laugh. 915pm. man i am so funny. i am so dateable. that was such a good story that i just told. look at this fool he has never laughed this hard in his life. 923pm. alright i filled the fuck out of that time and now it’s finally been an hour so i think i’m gonna be like alright dude good times also should we bounce. 923pm. he chooses this moment. this. moment. this moment? to tell me. that this. is his first date. ever. ever. ever. and that he’s having. fun. fun. FUCK. 924pm. if i get up and leave right after he said that it will be awful. shit. i am a sensitive person that would hurt my feelings what should i do oh shit is he ordering another drink.

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1006pm. what is my face doing. am i looking entertained. if i convey in any way how bad his stories are it will probably ruin all the progress he just made in terms of opening up and talking at least. how will he ever talk to the next woman if he doesn’t practice i can at least make it less work for her. i mean i think he’s trying his best not everyone is good in every environment like who am i to judge. i understand being socially anxious or in a new situation. ugh am i cruel? am i just a cruel person? i don’t even deserve love. 1012pm. how do people even tell stories where the entire story is “yeah and then we went there one time” like that’s not a story. there is no plot. am i dead yet? am i smiling? 1034pm. i have never known such relief. oh, sweet check. that i should happen upon you at last. in this very part. of the great, cold world. 1040pm. hey, i can’t wait til we do this again. 1041pm. did you really just fucking say same here.

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74

Averly Tan He wears: wind styled hair a pressed blue suit brown leather shoes He chews: watermelon gum on the thought of her She wears: high curly ponytail a fresh grey turtleneck rugged black rain boots She smells: watermelon gum the roses on his window I think: maybe I’ll see them again tomorrow I wonder: who will save a seat for the other

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On The Firebird Gena Fazel

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Pain Killer Sarah Muir

I. You hugged and teased us all, almost seven feet tall, harsh notes bounced across the walls when you entered a room. Restless long limbs, flailing with excitement Whenever there was someone to share photos from your trip to Asia with. Sierra club backpacks strewn about the house - untouched. You met my roommate at a holloween party. She loved your witty banter and your Richie Tennenbaum costume. She said you kissed the backs of her knees. I reminded you of your first love. You told me we shared the same name. You told me that I should be cold with what I was wearing, But that I looked good. You complained about the rain. You didn’t belong here. You wanted to go to karaoke with me. You wanted to bust out your deep gurgly pipes at Willie Nelson or some other old country song. 36.


Disco frequencies, hip-hop beats & sultry synth lines filled your room – a small respite. “Life’s a bitch, and then you die. That’s why we get high.” II. You were supposed to be there, still life. We called your name. We kicked you and screamed. Eyes open wide. Tense muscles we tried to revive. One, two, one two, one two – the pulses we attempted to give you While the fluids in your lungs gave us false hope. Stomachs in knots, our paralyzed skin. The other night we saved you, the lost boy. You thanked me for checking up on you. A lunar eclipse later, we were too late. Phlegmatic form. Wrapped up in a blanket, covered in little soccer balls. Drool on your grey pillow. Eyes like the sea. Sank into my memory. You and I used to argue – you liked to antagonize me. I was never that upset, I swear. I knew it was in jest. Ingest. The crushed blue pills &

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tray –

The white powder poured all over the ornate bed Birds made of feathers and painted on faces pressed behind a glass slab.

III. We visited the house two days later - manic fervor. My partner grabbed notebook paper and scribbled all over the ripped pages: “Get the fuck out of this house. He is dead. Get the fuck out.” And now he is receiving phone calls from all over the world about you. And your ghost curls about the red house on the corner that you lived in for thirteen years. He gets seasick thinking of you & how he tried to breathe life into a dead man the taste stuck on his tongue. The people who still owe you money, they walked all over your baldhead, unable to travel to exotic beaches like you wanted to. The cigarettes gave you anosmia - you were losing your senses. Hearing damage – a blank stare. We love you lost boy. 38.


Trains

Krishang Swami Inspired by many different trains of thoughts induced by certain psychedelic vibes, this playlist includes perspectives from the chaotic infinite. 1. The Meaning Of Love — Chrome Sparks 2. The Yabba — Battles 3. Quitter’s Raga — Gold Panda 4. Surrounds — Anatole 5. Metal Bird — Gold Panda 6. Goddess — Chrome Sparks 7. Viices (Instrumental) — Made in Heights, Sabzi 8. Everything — City of the Sun 9. So Long, Lonesome — Explosions In The Sky 10. The Way (Instrumental) — Zack Hemsey 11. Experience — Ludovico Einaudi 12. Rain (From “The Last Emperor”) — Ryuichi Sakamoto

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The Sight Of Our Love Lines Katie Priest

there must be more than this, than these unbranched psalms we share as we sit, coupled here, reading our own palms— in and between the shrewd line of sight; the tender shards of thought that we only see when we are at our barest.

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of course it is us, our flesh, our selves; we are terminal together, as one and as each other’s own padded parts, at each of our edges, and at the end our love may meet, surmounted and middled, somewhere, in the very breadth of it all, yielding the breaking of a wrinkle— for this this—is something to share. we are the papery protectors, we grow in each other’s own hands to hold. we exhale the broken and the barren, collectively, in our parsed-off, sequestered form of life. but here, with the impossible equalities of our unbalanced breath, this— is enough.

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Crushed Velvet Eleanor Cummins

Part one One summer, I got an email inviting me to a prestigious internship: Three months writing for a website synonymous with counterintuitive and often controversial opinions. I accepted without hesitation, ready to advance to the next plane of non-fiction writing, that advanced level where the skills I’d established in reporting and writing could finally commingle with clever thinking; where evidence-based opinion lifted my efforts into the realm of literature—or at least closer than they’d been before. In practice, that fall, I often found myself paralyzed in the face of a morning pitch. How could I take the day’s news and repackage it with just the right amount of cynicism? I thought I was signing up to think deeper, but I ended up thinking darker. A story I was assigned: Write about the president’s probable degenerative brain disease, despite a lack of evidence, despite the risk of stigmatizing other innocents, whose brains are runaway trains they can’t stop, but who still manage not to collude with Russia. Another story I was assigned: Write about why #MeToo isn’t for you. This, despite the fact it was. Even the stories I approached positively required a restrained execution. After all, if you put something out onto the web that was too effusive, others might poke holes; best to let the air out yourself. Soon, I found myself spending every waking moment 42.


fallen out of fashion since its peak in my middle school scanning the horizon for something stupid or silly, anything I could find that I could publicly rip apart. This was something I already did naturally—as a journalist, as a millennial, as a creature of the internet—but my new work responsibilities took up more and more of the horizon until my perspective was eclipsed by this particular shadow. Skepticism was currency; disdain was worth its weight in clicks. Looking back, I’m startled by the shadow set of fingerprints I created, fingerprints darkened by newsprint and a fear of sincerity and forever preserved on the world wide web. But I haven’t totally shaken the sense that this is a fundamental truth: To have enjoyed something thoroughly is to have not seen it clearly. Part two I can tell you exactly what I hate. The color orange against my pale peach face. That soupy sound a mouth makes when eating something soft. Less so, but also that crunchy sound a mouth makes when eating something hard. The President of the United States. The way he sucks the air out of the room, the White House, the Earth. The man who made Annie Hall—and the fact he wanted to call it “anhedonia.” Pickles. Pea soup. But I couldn’t tell you what I loved. It’s probable that, mere months ago, I couldn’t even tell you what I liked. I was a creature of the internet, a child of the new millennium. I was, in other words, never earnest. I could “takedown” and “debunk.” I had, though the word has 43.


days, “ironic” tastes. I struggled to dance in a summer storm, so accustomed was I to acid rain. On December 6, I set out to determine what I could fan for, even stan for. To discover what was extremely my shit; to decide what I loved. At first, it started out slow, like the trickle of a faucet that had been shut off for too long. I love urban parks, like the one outside my window… And rusty answers seeped out from girlhood, the moment before all sincerity was snuffed out like a candle at midnight. I love Gilmore Girls… But slowly the answers gained momentum with the force of a physics principle. “An heart pumping in earnest stays pumping in earnest,” or some such else. Miami. Compost. Cemeteries. Oaxacan black ceramics. Jeopardy. Lorde. Kehinde Wiley. Water rights. Being right. Not going into the city for days. Breakfast gnocchi. Scientific illustrations. Journalism. The word “cicatrix.” Millennial pink. Claddagh rings. Goat milk gelato. Carefully channeled misandry. Hamilton. The perfect pad see ew. Velvet. Any color velvet. Part three George Orwell once wrote that, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations.” In 2018, writing about what you love— putting it on the page in spite of your fears of attachment and your secret identification with Aaron Burr's convictionfree lifestyle and your desire never to love the wrong thing —actually fits the bill quite well.

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With Patience Comes Positivity With Truth Comes Love Anushree Shukla

“Challo ab jane bhi do na, kya karenge dastaan sunakar, khamoshi tum samjo ke nahi, baya humse hoga nahi” — Mirza Ghalib

As I put my feet against the heater to start thinking about this monologue, I say “Hey google, do you take notes?” It’s response, well let’s just say it's not what I wanted. Ahh would I have felt better if it had told me to download the Google Keep app? Or does it know that I would need something more robust, something more personal to make this easier? Well, like all of us, it’s still in the making. So instead I write, I write a lot. Every time I think of something worth noting down, I open my yellow and white notepad app and type everything from: ● ● ● ● ● ●

grocery lists to-do lists presentation pitches business strategies what - if scenarios long fb and insta drafts

● dialogues and shairi ● application and essay brainstorming ● elevator pitches ● professional and personal advice

● phone numbers and emails ids ● job-hunt lists ● cooking recipes I get from my mom

“Whats uppp! How have you been? I love what you’re wearing, where did you buy that from. Damn you’re looking niceee! It’s so inspiring to see you do such incredible things. Great catching up! Hahah omg that’s something I would totally do” *laughs crazily* <insert more jokes> Those that know me, know this about me. I tend to get overly sappy everytime I see new and old faces. So while I can be annoyingsometimes and come off as “high energy,” my

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love for you is genuine. No matter what our situation might be today, you will always receive the same if not more love that what you give in return. Now wait, that sounds weird, “How can you be okay with people that left you, how can you not hold grudges against those that harmed you? To be honest, it convenient. I can’t choose my pain but I can chose to not give a shit about it and just do me. It's easier for me to forgive and forget and reflect than dwell and regret. So let's just say deep down I’m just selfish hahaha. So I always thought I had this confidence, I always thought I was outgoing. But it wasn't till these past two years that I realised it was all just a facade. Before my junior year, I was playing a part. I was trying to be someone I was not. I was trying to fit in, I was trying to be happy. But in reality I look back and I was missing the essence of it all, I forgot what it was like to honestly #LOVEMYSELF. So had it not been for the times I was alone, had it not been for the good and bumpy people I met, had it not been for the surgeries I had and had it not taken 8 years and counting to fix my teeth, then I wouldn't be here today being my most honest self. I look back and wonder, was it thick skin that made me want to make fun of myself or was it my fault for playing along. Was I insecure everytime I lied about something to add to the conversation. Or was it a coping mechanism every time I looked in the mirror and told myself “I’m gorgeous and I’m amazing.” This path led me to honesty, this path helped me choose my people. Spending time

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alone is as valuable to me as spending time with those that bring the best out of me. And of course now I actually know that, “main paida hi hot hui thi.” But real talk, I’m still the same. I dance at the drop of a beat. I rap to Cardi B in my sleep. There are times I forget to eat, but now I also eat meat. I take my high metabolism for granted and often consume unhealthy food. I love helping people grow and rarely say no. Ellen Degeneres and Lilly Singh have been my constant inspiration because positivity is the way to go. My room is a mess the day after I clean it and I’m a character and I know it. I love to entertain. I welcome the insane. Sometimes, I doubt myself for not being as smart as those in Informatics, but as long as I keep stretching my potential, I know I can do wonders. I love meeting new people and learning their best qualities. I invite reflection and critique, but can't stand meaningless hate. I am constantly trying to be more aware, mindfulness is for us to share. For I will change for no one, but myself, I will change only for better. I love myself for WHO I AM and it’s time we all do! So don’t ever let the rough times pull you down, don’t ever let anyone take control. You are beautiful. You are amazing. You are intelligent. You are worthy. Be true to yourself and the experiences you gain. And welcome each moment for it’s only yours to keep. So if you’re fierce and unafraid or if you have the will to change than buckle up and let’s go, because with patience comes positivity and with truth comes love.

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LDR, Self-Love Malia Imayama

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Nocturnes Sam Tezak

The man sits down in the plastic chair. When he scoots himself up to the table, she worries he’ll break the chair’s back legs moving so forcefully across the linoleum floor. A jar, once used for raspberry preserves, diffuses turpentine fumes throughout the room. He looks up at the window and behind the woman and it is black outside. He wonders if the blackness is the shadow of a window well. Perhaps, he thinks, it is a moonlit night. Moments earlier, when the man arrived at the apartment, the night was cold and so he did not survey the building, nor did he look up at the sky. Instead he called her, and when she came to open the door, she had brown paint smudged on the tip of her nose and he walked quickly into the warm stairwell. Now, as it was in the stairwell, it is quiet. “There’s an important message in this book: PS3568.A784 D82 2005.” It is written in slender cursive, sharp and academic. He reads this off of the yellow postit note stuck to his phone. He smiles and folds it into his wallet. The room is warm and contained: washed in yellow from her bedside lamp. Hurrying across campus, he almost slips on ice disguised and waiting like a snake in the grass. Students chew on pills and clack at their keyboards. The screens’ blue lights washed over their faces. He hurries down the stairs and finds the aisle labeled ‘PS’. The book cover is eggshell white, it is worn and reads “Dubious Angels: Poems After Paul Klee.” Inside the paper cover is another note:

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“I found you.” And he feels a rush of joy and within that joy, a fear of weightlessness. She looks at him and back at the board. The fluorescent overhead light hums and she considers the brown lamp on a table behind the man. It is a large lamp and heavy, it is built as a desk lamp. An object one might imagine that an architect or a librarian used in the 1950’s and 1960’s. A small round, silver switch can turn the lamp on or off. On some days she sits down at that table with a copy of 9 Stories, flicks the small round, silver switch, and twists its massive rectangular head to an angle. On those days, the light covers the pages and she admires it. She believes this particular lamp: brown and postmodern, is a perfect form. The man unzips his backpack and shuffles some papers on the table. “Fuck you, you’re a fucking asshole.” A telephone pole’s shadow stretches across the darkened street and before he crosses over it, he hesitates as if he is passing through a door or boarding a plane. When he does cross, he does so because for a moment he forgets her words and remembers that he is hungry. He’ll go and buy a peach flavored yogurt from the nearby grocery. The foil wrapper, folded into a spoon shape, will shake in the wind and his jaw will ache where the heel of her palm met his jaw. There is no plan when this happens. He walks slowly back to the house. In each step, the yogurt becomes more difficult to put down until he reaches the door. He is surprised to discover that the handle gives way. There is a light coming from the kitchen and when he walks into the space he sets the empty plastic cup on the breakfast 50.


room table beside a jam jar leftover from the morning’s meal. She is in the corner, staring at the floor and when she looks up she moves her hand to dry the wet lines reflected along her cheeks. The poet and the painter move towards one another and she crumples the sticky note in her hand and throws it. It lands on top of an egg carton perched in the trash bin. The alcohol on her breath is now stale. He turns on a song and she wraps her arms around his shoulders. Mick Jagger begins, “Wild, wild horses couldn't drag me away.” Their tears, roll hot down their faces and follow the lines along their necks, burying themselves in their hair and the cotton of their shirts. She shuffles her feet on top of his and they begin to gently rock back and forth. Red and pink and white paint streaks cover her corduroy pants. He wonders if the paint is intentional, but decides against that idea. She wears a faded olive green t-shirt with a blue chambray on top, its sleeves rolled up below her elbows. When she looks at him, the end of the brush sits against her front teeth, which seem large to him and this fact makes him smile. For what seems to him like a long time, she’ll watch the man while she taps the wooden brush on her teeth. Her blonde hair hangs in a messy bun. One lock frames the side of her face. The longer he watches her, he notices more paint on her face: flecks of white, pink and violet rubbed onto her cheeks. “Falling in love is like stumbling around in the dark, and for a moment, suddenly grasping someone’s hand,” her words hang in the evening, or it is morning, and they lay on the top of the covers. They hold their faces close 51.


together. It is dark, so dark that if their eyes were not wet, they would not be able to see one anotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s form at all. Snow wanders outside and they can almost feel it quietly gather on the ground. She feels his sweat with her hand as she rubs her thumb along his hipbone, admiring its ridge, how the skin is soft and sloped. They move through the door and into the hallway. Looking through the large circular window that faces the street, their fingers grow between one another. She imagines that this is how roots grow from trees and it hurts her to think of this. She wonders if it is possible that he feels the roots growing into the soil too, if he can bear it, and if he knows that she cannot. After watching the snow lazily drift onto the sidewalk for a few moments, they walk back to her bed, careful not to step on the creaking boards in the hall. She moves towards her lamp and turns a black switch in its side. The body of the lamp is porcelain and curved, painted green with fuchsia-colored chrysanthemums, a gift from her mother. For a breath, she watches him defiantly, then moves and kisses his hipbone. She plucks one of the brushes from the old raspberry preserve jar and pats it on a grey rag, which hangs from her back pocket. Before he came, she chose the board that she would paint him on. She also chose some of the colors; their aluminum tubes, fat with white, pink and violet paint, nestled against one another on a plastic table just like his. Tonight she plans to sketch his face and so she pushes the umber brown paint from its tube onto a smaller platter. She licks the turpentine with the tip of her brush and proceeds to dilute the oily paint until it is thin, but still rich. When she looks up she tells him that sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to 52.


play some music and that later he can choose what heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to listen to. He nods and quietly agrees, though she cannot hear what he says. Her speakers crackle when she pushes the headphone jack into her phone and the music begins to play.

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How Not To Love Pranav Shivanna

Peach tea, peach skies. No walls. Pray for it to end. Sit like a cake, try to smile, reach for her hand, her hand dodges, then her eyes too. Cigarette smoke. Not two months ago, mere hints of smilesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; At other tables, other people. They laugh and slurp and hold hands. A Granny drops cloves into her cup, claps, dies. No Grandy around to mop her up. Casually toss a dagger. She dodges. Someone screeches for Jesus. A neighboring Mommy vomits mid-yawn, so Daddy gasps and someone else gasps and a hairy white man emerges huffing from the unisex 54.


to beat his chest for assistance and a lotus monk floats down through the thatch, humming love. Red, black, scrape up to beat YOUR chest, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I live for me and me alone!â&#x20AC;? and hurl YOUR cup to the chessboard and stomp and hop and. Bleed a trail to the Exit.

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Four Photos Tyler Thompson

from above

late lunch 56.


mountain mornings

spread love 57.


For My Nephew

Alia Marsha Kusumaningrat 1. When your grandmother told me of your existence, I did not move a muscle. But I was relieved. In my mind, you were a much bigger mistake than my tattoos, my septum ring, my “alcoholism” and my deviant lifestyle, as your grandmother would put it. Your existence, that day, meant that my brother had screwed up more than I did. 2. The night your mother and father married, I was not there. I did not care to be there. There was no money or time for me to be there. I was on a first date with a guy. I had a picture of your father next to a $5 plant, and he asked about it. I told him, “That’s my brother. He’s getting married as we speak.” 3. On April 25, I came home to you, but you were still in your mother’s stomach. You were no longer a sick fetus, they said. You’re healthy because your mother was too, at last. 4. On June 1, your grandfather scolded me at the hospital waiting area. He said that my tank top was inappropriate. It showed my tattoos too much. I shrugged. I knew you wouldn’t care. 5. After waiting what felt like forever, I met you. They wheeled you into the room in a cradle, and I looked inside, “Where is he?” All I saw were bolsters. Then one of them started crying. They said you were a big one. But honestly,

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you seemed pretty darn small to me. Sorry. 6. In August I cried while on the phone with my boyfriend. You made me an aunt, baby boy. Playing with you every night after work was a cherished thing. I loved your cute lil eyes and nose and I loved your purity and your clean slate. Somebody told me that your cells regenerate every so often that every 7 years, you have a whole new body. But your body is the Original. How did it feel to be so fresh and new, Zo? 7. One time, I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see you for two weeks. When I finally came home, you were crawling. I cried again, in my room, alone. 8. You have my eyes. My nose. My lips! 9. I have this strong feeling that I will leave you again, for a much longer time. Sometimes when I daydream about the life I want to live, I do not think of you. I think about myself, and about reuniting with people I left 9 months ago in a city I will love forever. I think about places so different from here, where the air feels different and the skies are many shades of every color. Tell me, will you hate me if I leave you? Will you call me and tell me about all the words you learn at school? Or will you forget about me? If you want me to stay, let me know.

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Cohabitation Vows Haylee Millikan

For Ned 1.

You have had and held me through LSD panic attacks and nightly baths for my chronically aching back: the banal and anarchic moments of growing up together. Imprinted on me is the way you handed me the limp lifeless body of Brian Wilson, our two-month-old bunny bought for ten dollars at a fair in small-town Montana; years earlier, my hands gripped the ledge of stone and reinforced concrete on the Pont de Bercy, my voice sturdy in telling you â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you go, I goâ&#x20AC;? even if realistically I would be supine in the face of your loss.

2.

Now, I do take thee from your dead-slumber (on the sleeper sofa I now regret buying), pull your feet onto the floor, half-gently guide you to our bed, at least two times a week. For poorer, for now, I do vow to pay my share of the rent most months.

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I promise to complain about all manner of domestic labor, if you promise to continue telling me “something good” when I ask you what you want to eat. From this day forward (though this is nothing new) we will be comfortable with the bathroom door open, I will cherish your pheromones after a long day in the kitchen, except the stench of your feet. 3.

I don’t buy into the “puzzle piece” theory of love. Nothing is missing from me, at least nothing solvable by another human’s foibles. Love is a two-layer cake, legos, it is you and I, two leaves happenstance connected by the same branch. In old poetry I called you my fading light but perhaps you have always been sending smoke signals I am only just beginning to decode. When I look into the mirror I expect two different-sized pupils, your face, to be looking back. I no longer worry that this calm is an insidious one, the eye of the storm— I fell in love with you in a frenzy that confounded and enthralled me. 61.


Now I have been changed, made petrified wood by your touch.

4.

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Lazily, you wake and ask is there a laser show in the apartment and I glance around, considering the possibility for a moment, the atmosphere around me having changed so starkly, vibrantly, without my noticing. You are every frame of the screen when I find porn that isn’t problematic; you are no one taking the last seat in the subway; you are just-under-boiling bath water and four cups of Epsom salt. Would gravity stop working without you? Probably not, so I won’t use that analogy, it’s only that you are barely describable, and I am fearful without words.


I Choose You Mackenzie Roberts

Mackenzie Roberts, M (daughter) Stephen Roberts, S (father) Storycorps Interview Transcript Shreveport, Louisiana, USA 10/29/17 M: So how did you meet Mom? S: One of the most important days of my life. It was August the 10th 1979, 7:55 in the morning. M: Wow that’s specific. S: It’s just so poignant. It was such a meaningful experience for me. I’ll never forget that day or that moment my whole life. I worked at Roberts, Cherry and Company. My father was the managing partner at the time. And I was one of the 12 or 15 employees there at the time. I walked into the coffee room and she was standing there. And I saw her and tripped over myself and I fell down. She was stunning. But I was married to another woman and she was married to another man. And I honestly believe I fell in love with her at that moment. I know it sounds silly, love at first sight, but I did. I’ll never forget that moment. Oddly that day, it happened to be her second anniversary of her wedding to another man, who by the way is one of my best friends now. He’s a wonderful human being and I love him dearly. One of the nicest men you’ll ever meet, his name is Joe. He’s a beautiful man and I think he is because your mother helped to make him a 63.


beautiful man. M: So how long did it take before you started to date? S: Six years. We had a very brief fling, that she immediately stopped. She said she couldn't do that and I respected that. She stayed at Roberts, Cherry and Company for another year or so. After that, she left and went into private practice. She too was a CPA. I always stayed in contact with her. I was divorced by then. My ex-wife Julia and I separated in November of ‘79 and divorced in ‘80. But I always kept in touch with your Momma. I would buy a new car and I’d take it by for her to see. I’d find a reason to go by, just to check on her, just to have a coffee, just to stay in touch. No romance, no nothing. I was dating other women. In fact, I was dating a woman, Renee, and one day Renee said to me, “When are we going to get married?” And I said, “Oh, I don’t know. May the fifth.” I just threw out a date. She said, “Like call your mother May the 5th?” And I said, “Sure, call my mother and tell her we’re going to get married on May the 5th.” This was a Sunday morning. I could tell you that date too. So she called my mother and she said, “Steve and I are going to get married.” And my mom said, “Come over, we got the champagne iced down! Let’s celebrate.” She called my brother and they said “Come over, we’re going to drink some champagne and celebrate.” And we went over to my mother’s house and my brother’s house to have champagne. Then Sunday came to an end and on Monday morning, I woke up, and I drove to your mother’s house. I knocked on the door, it was about 9:30 in the morning, and I went in to have a cup of coffee with her and I said, “I’m getting married.” [crying] 64.


We both broke down and cried. We had not touched one another in six years. I told her my story. She never said, “Don’t do it,” but I left there and I was in therapy, and I called him and said “I told Renee that I was going to marry her yesterday and I’m in love with another woman. What do I do?” He said, “You drive over to her house right this minute and you tell her the wedding is off.” And that’s exactly what I did. I drove straight to Renee’s house. We were engaged for a day. When I drove over there, I got out and she was already painting her front door, getting ready to move. And I got out and she looked at me and she said, “Oh shit. We got a problem, don’t we?” and I said “Yeah, we do. We have to talk.” And I told her that I was in love with another woman and that I couldn’t marry her. I’d told her about your mother, but I’d never told her your mother’s name. I’d told her that I had met a woman named Jane, your mother’s middle name. I’d told her about Jane, I referred to Jane in the past and she said, “Is it Jane?” and I said, “of course it is.” And she had met Deborah a year before, because your mom had shown up at a Roberts, Cherry and Company party. I guess just intuitively she knew that Deborah was “Jane” because she said, “Is that really Deborah?” and I said, “Yes it is.” So I called off the wedding, but I didn’t have the courage to leap into the relationship with you mother. So I stayed in the relationship with both Deborah and Renee for about six months. Oh, it was horrible. On January the 23rd, 1984, they both showed up at my house and ganged up on me. It was the most wretched day in my entire life, but at the end of it, it ended at about 3:00 in the morning, and I wound up—they left and I had a little sportscar at the time —and I drove over to your mother’s house at three 65.


o’clock in the morning and said “I choose you. I choose you, if you’ll have me.” And we got in that little car and we drove around until the sun came up. So I started seeing your mother seriously at that time and we saw one another for about a year. We then decided that we wanted to get married, but I had three children from my marriage with Julia. And when we started talking about what our goals were for in our married life, the first thing she said was, “I want a child.” And I said, “Well, I already have three. I don’t think I want a fourth.” It became a deal breaker, so your Mom and I broke up. We stayed apart for several months. One day, I don’t remember the date, which is unusual, I went to the store and I bought a babydoll. I wrapped it up and brought that babydoll over to her. And I gave her that [crying] doll and told her I was ready for you. M: We still have that doll. But it seems that you guys weren’t able to have a baby. Is that right? S: Oh God. We did everything you could possibly do, except for hang from a chandelier. For four years, we tried hard really hard to have you. But we couldn’t. And so we started applying for adoptions. We went to an attorney who had an expecting mother that was willing to let us have her child. Your mother wanted a baby so badly and said “Yes, we want this baby!” But I read the history of this baby and it said the parents were uneducated, they all smoked, they all drank, they all died early—it was just horrible genetic composition. I said, “No, we’re not going to take this baby.” Oh, and your mother was so upset. But nonetheless, ultimately, she agreed. I had a client that had an adoption agency and I called him one day and asked if we could 66.


come see him. We went to see Don at Holy Cross Adoption Agency and we were telling him what we wanted; educated parents, drug free, alcohol free, and cigarette and nicotine free. Then Don says, “Hey Margaret, have we placed Amy’s baby?” And Margaret yells back, “No, we haven’t.” He said, “Bring me that file.” This file was about this lovely young woman, your birth mother named Amy. It was like, we want to adopt her. Forget about the baby, we’ll just take her. Don said, “Well, it’s not so easy. She wants to interview whoever the adoptive parents are.” And it turns out she interviewed eight or ten candidates. For some reason, luckily, we struck a chord with her and she chose us and let us choose you. M: Can you tell me what happened to Mom? S: Your mom was the smartest woman I’ve ever known. She took care of herself, always went to the doctor, always did her mammograms, and always took care of everything. When she went to the doctor to get her normal mammogram, the woman said there might be a problem, come back. They did some more tests and sure enough she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She had just had a mammogram the year before. It turns out that when they went back to compare her old films that they could see that they actually missed it. It had a whole year to grow before it was caught. But lived for four more years. She fought it valiantly. And died on January the 15th 2014. She was a remarkable woman and she left a remarkable imprint on you.

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Peace and Blessingsâ&#x20AC;? Parthasarathy Vaidya

One year ago, my life shifted place, pace, ground and direction. I dropped out of college in Seattle and moved back to India, restarting here as a freshman after leaving my fourth year there. "Shift" doesn't cover it. My reality and identity have transposed outside of any key I knew, slipping back into harmony as presents for the Christmases of learnt lessons. I've spent the past year nursing and healing the most broken parts of myself that life, like clockwork, brought up whenever there was an opportunity. Like clockwork, there was serendipity everywhere, always, if I only bothered to look. One hand pointed to the wounds, the other healed them by showing me that I'm where I'm supposed to be. The third keeps ticking towards the next lesson. These two photographs are my souvenirs of acceptance. Of my love for me for placing me in moments given the grace to meet their subjects and capture them. I listened to Erykah Badu a lot this year. She says: "it goes on and on, and on and on, my cipher keeps moving like a rolling stone."

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Scrape It Like Malai Eman Rahman

Recently there has been an incapacitation of thought. And unfortunately only has found the perfect visual for it Coconut Malai. Hence my pursuit is to find The shell of a coconut Which can scrape the innards of my thought To render it bare of thoughts inconsequential Or thoughts incredibly consequential. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all still blurry now. So I find a love My love Whom I pretend to be friends with for a day Good depart from pretending to be lovers for a year And we walk up tughlak stairs Surrounded by kiss a bye lovers Who have no money to make love in cum scented rooms of late. "You don't take it in properly" â&#x20AC;&#x153;You dont know how to smoke" Defiant, I take deep drags of rebellion Which overflow the lungs of mummy papa's beta 70.


Beta remembers fainting in hospital lobbies Where papa carried her, too heavy. Beta lies down on her cobblestoned back. Not before beta makes out with ladka To "regain a sense of reality" 1,2 1,2 Lips move in synchronised movements of movements rehearsed multiple times in Dark museums where Fake Amrita showed Anirudh what it means to Really love an artist. Whoooooo, amrita is high Ants crawl up Amrita's belly and Anirudh's feet graze under her sole. Touches his sausage fingers of dehydration. Anamtaa and Amrita are no longer bodies. They are two beings caged inside bodies of swirly patters of ants and waves and rollercoaster. Anirudh eggs her on to puke She hates the sound of his voice so she does. He laughs and asks if mummy puts food colouring. Stumbling we go down tughlak stairs Losing balance kicks off a limbo of control Does she trust Anirudh Or herself Or a stranger Odds are, 2 are a bad choice

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But a girlie Who has never trusted her instinct Must choose between the person Of her body Or her body's choice of person. Time is suspended, my friends Every second is magnified like Carl Sagan looking at the oscillation of time on prime time telly explaining how every second my friend can be infinitesimally magnified and repeated. A stranger is alloted timekeeper and he looks at me With a benign smile of good service class attitude. "Stay with me" Amrita utters for the umpteenth time Except this time her lips are not coated with the "dew of love" Only the resin of bad decisions. Bad boy must take his bike because mumma is angry at beta. Amrita takes her chain And hands it to blue shirt autowalla Stumbles in As he has been inside her Amrita dies in autos of party villages Her neck smells no longer of rajnigandha Or roses Or her father's cologne. Amrita dies in bad boy' BTs Because Amrita has had her Malai. 72.


Reverence

Charlie Louise Jones — Poetry says, “look at the greenery, see how the fence rests at an angle, reminiscent of your mother, taste how the sound feels of your breath, see how the swallow flies in the throat of all you have known.” — a vowel births vibrations into the world and a consonant closes reverberation in and down the spinal cord am is halfway between a body, and a body birthed within the world — Fly batting against my face, saying, “Come into the air,” saying, “Let me rest here,” saying, “Have—have—have known you before.” Silver ridges backed, Cathedral paned wings, Eyes Iridescent, bulging. Insect-glide faster than eye can follow, fillet your forefeet here. 73.


â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Above is the mur of an aeroplane, herrrrtz of a motorcycle, bird squirq song, a cooing dove in the tree twines. Distant shrieks and whoops mingled of children playing, gurgle of water poured out a pipe-throat, fading woof of a dog, and shiver wobble of a puddle in subtle brushing breeze. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; still as the leaf settled in the sidewalk pond of morning rain, content where it sogs, is the silence, and the song. that I may see the world as it is, both a prayer, and an offering.

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“I Think I Love Me More Than Anything” Erika Mann

Morbidly self-obsessed people love to imagine their own funerals. I can attest to this because I am one of those morbidly self-obsessed. Thoughts of my own death can occur at any moment of the day and can be triggered by any object or person. For instance, yesterday, I was at the grocery store, waiting in line at the self-checkout station, when I spotted a box of raisins. Naturally, their shriveled up bodies contained in a giant red box, reminded me of death —of old wrinkled skin and skeletons buried beneath the surface of the ground. I was then transported to my own funeral: Cause of death unknown. The entire scene is black and white and gray, like an old film noir. The only vibrant colors come from the red roses placed gracefully above my coffin or else as red petals littered on the ground. Of course, it is raining, foreboding a bigger storm. As they lower my body into the ground, my mother struggles for breath while tears form a tiny rivulet down her face. She embraces my sister, who also can’t control her tears, so she buries her face into our mother’s chest. I imagine my brother with a baffled and shocked look on his face — how could my loving, beautiful, older sister be dead? My father, as always, remains steely-faced and stoic (his attempt at bravery). He holds the umbrella that shields my mother and sister from the downpour. 75.


There are hundreds of guests, all equally devastated about my departure, so they pass around boxes of tissues. She was so young. And she was very thoughtful, someone would say, sniffling. I was in love with her, but I never had the chance to tell her, my future lover (let’s call him Ben) whispers somberly, his dark brown eyes nostalgic for a love that could have been. Don’t worry, my friend Michaela reassures him, she loved you too. Then Ben looks up to the sky and vows to live life to the fullest, in memory of me. Meanwhile, news anchors all over the country report on the tragic loss of me, inspiring, talented, university graduate. Her death has sparked a revolution, they say. Then I imagine my face plastered everywhere: on a billboard, as graffiti on a freeway overpass. Or else on a black t-shirt for the angst-ridden teen to wear as he or she or they experiments with Newports in a bathroom stall or reads Kerouac in some obscure café. Somewhere in the distance, music by the Cure plays. Yes. As you can tell, I have thought vividly about my passing or rather, what happens after I pass. Somehow, I have yet to muster up the courage to imagine the agent of death. Perhaps I am not as macabre as I like to think. Nevertheless, my funeral usually begins and ends in the same way, though sometimes I like to imagine my mother clutching the casket, refusing to see her daughter go. Or I imagine Ben authoring a book of poetry, inspired by me. This book becomes critically acclaimed and eventually, he 76.


becomes the United States poet laureate. He never marries. To be honest, I am unaware of the exact moment I became so self-obsessed or when the thought of death slowly consumed my brain. I’m convinced it was always there, tucked somewhere inside my unconscious. (Freud may have been strange, but he was some sort of genius right?) It doesn’t matter the source, I suppose. It’s here. I’ve triggered it: Some days, I am so distracted by my thoughts I forget to eat. Other days, I am so afraid of my thoughts, I don’t sleep. Instead, I stare at my ceiling trying to think of anything else, like Michaela’s new dog or my father’s spaghetti. Anything. It’s funny though — these are the days I have hope.

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Self Care Selly Sallah

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About The Editor Jeevika Verma is a poet from India with a passion for radical honesty. She graduated from the University of Washington in December 2016 with a B.A. in Creative Writing. Before college, she lived in Cameroon (YaoundĂŠ), which is where she founded her own creative-literary journal Creative Chaos. Her work has been featured in NPR, Kajal Magazine, Crosscut, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Cleaver Magazine, Susie Magazine, The Seattle Globalist, Alaska Airlines Magazine, and more. Find her at jeevikav.com or @_jeevika on Instagram.


About The Contributors Selly Sallah is an artist based in Washington, DC. She is passionate about media, the arts, education, and womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rights. Selly graduated from Boston College with a BA in Political Science and Communications. Her professional experiences have ranged from working as an intern for NPRâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sponsorship & Audience and Community Relations teams, to positions as an associate in the Obama White House's Office of Presidential Correspondence and as MAXIMUS Inc.'s corporate & social responsibility intern. Selly loves sharing art, music and food (preferably together). Find her at sellysallah.com or @sellysallah.

Izzy Boutiette is a poet and full-time unpaid intern at brilliant publishers and dreammakers Wave Books, Gramma Press, and Mount Analogue. She is close to completing degrees in English Literature and Comparative History of Ideas at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she lives with her monster swiss and aloe vera plants. Find her on social media @babushka_bby.

Palashika Bhat is a healer, a writer, a traveller whose photographs attempt to slow down life that is too fast for the eye to see. Find her work at www.palashika.tumblr.com.


Taj Taher’s claim to expertise on love comes from his childhood exposure to Bollywood films and a string of failed relationships pursued to avoid an arranged marriage. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in English Literature and currently studies at Oregon Health and Science University, from which he hopes to gain an MD so he can attend to literal matters of the heart.

Michelle Meyering is one part bad jokes, two thousand parts anxiety, and three parts exaggeration. Find her at averagelemon.com.

Cash Erin Sofinowski ousside; climbin’ rocks, walking down trails in her chac's, or eating chips. Also, dogs are the best. She’s @yagurlerin on Instagram.


Roxana Gomez is a first-generation Honduran American woman living in Seattle. She is passionate fighter for public health, social justice and wholeheartedly believes that no human being is illegal. When she has a free moment, you will find her either climbing, practicing yoga or discovering a new happy hour spot!

Julie Van is an educator, writer, and graduate student who strives to elevate conversations related to the intersections of higher education, language, mathematics, and identity. A Pacific Northwest native, she currently resides in Western Massachusetts. Check out her work at julievvan.com or find her @julievvan on social media.

Jocelyn Beausire is a writer, visual artist, performer, architect, and musician based in Seattle and originally from the Midwest. Find more of her work at www.jocelynbeausire.com.


Sarayu Nandakumar loves to love all that can be loved. If you want to share the love, write to her at sarayu302@gmail.com to share recipes of yum food across cultures and from all over the world, share goofy pictures, playlists, maybe even some good conversations.

Cali Kopczick is the editor-at-large for Chin Music Press and the production manager and story editor of the documentary Where the House Was. Her writing is out or forthcoming with The Offing, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Bone Bouquet, and others. She lives in Seattle, WA and tweets under the handle @CaliKopczick.

Angie Caplanis grew up in southern California and now lives in Seattle. Her writing often takes inspiration from Washingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s natural environment. In her free time, she enjoys rewatching BBCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pride and Prejudice with her cat, Gus.


Remy Morritt is a Seattle-based drummer and composer. Find him at remymo.com or @remymodrums on Instagram.

Shelby Burns can be found at @ShelbyABurns on social media. For Shelby, love is many things, but it always means family first. As a native Floridian, Shelby misses her family most of all while she is currently working in public relations in Washington, DC. In her spare time she loves to explore the DC area and plan adventures in her new city.

Shreya Tewari is nocturnal and she enjoys sitting in corners.


Averly Tan is a reluctant espresso slinger with an affinity for the Seattle sun and the Southern California rain, believing it will all be ok. Check out her work at www.averlytan.com or find her on Instagram @averlytan.

Gena Fazel has a degree in English Literature, never learned to write.

Sarah Muir graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Washington in 2016. She has taken a break from writing but is excited to be a part of this anthology!


Krishang Swami is a design student at the University of Washington in Seattle. His portfolio lives at krishangswami.com, and @krishangswami on Instagram and VSCO.

Katie Priest copes with our constantly shifting political and environmental climates through poetry and prose. She collects herself within the silent chaos that the wilderness and natural world provide her. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on Instagram @katiepreach.

Eleanor Cummins is a science journalist with a particular passion for city parks, climate resiliency, cemeteries and B-list celebs. She lives and works in New York City, but is almost certainly not a New Yorker.


Anushree Shukla is a senior at the University of Washington studying Informatics in the pursuit to becoming a Program Manager. She is a tech enthusiast and likes thinking about consumer patterns and current trends. She is passionate about growing diversity in schools and workforce and hopes to become an inspirational leader one day. In her free time you can find Anushree dancing to anything with a good rhythm.

Malia Imayama is an English teacher by day and a hibernating bear under her heating table at night.

When he is not dining at Waffle House on Saturday mornings, Sam Tezak enjoys measuring his houseplants' growth and going to the gym with a bottle full of protein powder. Recently SZA told him that he looked dapper and for some inexplicable reason, Sam replied, "It's my fancy day" before tearing up.


Pranav Shivanna is an emotional cup of stew that simmers in Seattle. He is employed.

Tyler Thompson is a 24 year old industrial design graduate who spends most of his time working in the wood shop or looking for the best rock to climb and snow to ski. Find him at www.tylerthompson.design or @get.the.truck.out on Instagram.

Alia Marsha Kusumaningrat is a storyteller relearning her hometown of Jakarta after spending years abroad. She's currently an editor at VICE Indonesia.


Haylee Millikan is a 22-year-old poet, essayist, editor, and feminist activist currently attending graduate school for digital media and gender studies at The New School. Her work is featured in the new anthology "Washington's Best Emerging Poets," as well as in Alien Mouth, pioneertown mag., Murmur House, CNBC, Public Seminar, among others. She lives in Brooklyn with her two rescue cats and her partner, and spends an obscene amount of time in the bathtub. Find her at hmillikan.com or @hayleelujah on social media.

Mackenzie Roberts is a Louisiana native, but is currently in Washington, D. C. working to preserve American history in the archives. When she is not reading a book, Mackenzie likes to explore historical sites, watch Spanish soap operas and dream about the day she will own a car again.

Parthasarathy Vaidya is an eternal longing for music and the beauty of human beings. He studies English literature, journalism and psychology in Mysore, and hops around with a camera. View his photos on instagram @paraatha or 500px at parthavaidya.


Eman Rahman is a procrastinating writer. She lives in Delhi.

Charlie Louise Jones is a writer, artist, and traveler on the journey outside the self into world a-waking. She lives in Seattle and is happiest when nearby water or picking blueberries. Best when picking blueberries nearby a stream.

Erika Mann is an aspiring writer from the Bay Area. When she's not writing, she loves curating playlists on Spotify. Find her on Instagram at errrrrika_m.


Loving An Anthology


Loving  

Loving is an anthology curated and designed by Jeevika Verma. A literal dream come true, it contains original work by 33 contributors. It wa...

Loving  

Loving is an anthology curated and designed by Jeevika Verma. A literal dream come true, it contains original work by 33 contributors. It wa...

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