Miami Country Day School
Sabrina Cabarcos '20 Sofia Paredes '20
Layout Editor Giulianna Bruce '21
Editor’s Note Amused is a student-run art and literary magazine with the purpose of showcasing the highest quality work produced by the Upper School students. Through the compilation of students’ works, we aim to showcase the contrasting viewpoints and experiences that exist within our community in a format that is aesthetically pleasing for the reader while also complementing the talent of the students.
Klara Meyer '20 Andrew Weaver '21
Arian Djahed '20
Mia Batista '21
Current MCDS students may submit art and writing for consideration by the editors during the beginning of the second semester. Editorial staff positions are open to all members of the student body. The magazine is free to all members of the MCDS community.
Sophia Agurcia '21 Hannah Amoils '20 Michael Athanassiadis '21 Sofia Cabarcos '20 Camryn Davis '20 Briana Espinosa '20 Julieta Feldman '20 Mary Hanson '21 Maya Kreger '21 Jacqueline Ludicke '21 Sophia “Bell” Lopez '23 Mariapia Onorato '21 Francesca Settineri '20 Maria Silva '20 Kitty Simmonds '21
Faculty Advisors 2
Scott Brennan Samuel Brown 3
Dancing with My Love Felipe Blaya
Unorthodox Love Poem Mary Hanson
The Symbiosis of Day and Night Chaya Hazan
Yesterday Klara Meyer
To a Lost One Zeina Bazzi
Nutrition Facts Mary Hanson
Call Me Ishmael - The Human Chorus Sofia Paredes
Skort Lengths Giulianna Bruce
Believing in Science Sofia Paredes
The Astral Savior Arian Djahed
Four Poems for Happiness Arielle Germeus
Juliet Sabrina Cabarcos
Two Strangers on the F Train Davin McCormack
Nostalgia Giulianna Bruce
An Inquiry into Adolescence Sabrina Cabarcos
Tears of Joy Anonymous
Half Past Ten Sophia “Bell” Lopez 4
Rising Sun: Chapter Two Arian Djahed
Roots of Envy Chaya Hazan
Silver Bells Caitlin Cherenfant
On a Good Day Helena Perez
Reapers Maya Kreger 5
Ennui Jordan Fishman
Outer Demons Mia Batista
Decortication Mary Hanson
Empathetic Gasoline Emissions Mary Hanson
Miraculous Rot Mary Hanson
An Island off the Coast of Nowhere Klara Meyer
Now Playing at the “O” Belle Greenberg
Saxland Michael Athanassiadis
George Harrison Giulianna Bruce
November Sabrina Cabarcos
My Brother and Autism Sophia “Bell” Lopez
28 30 30
inside my fistful Mary Hanson
Basel Helena Cardillo Ramos Butterflies
Giulianna Bruce The Loner
my room, my mind Mary Hanson
Miami: Wednesday, January 22 Alex Levine “Happy” Birthday Mia Batista
“Something” by The Beatles Giulianna Bruce
Comfortable Silence Kate Stenina
The Plaza Mia Batista
To the Sky Mia Batista
Gesturalism (#1 and #2)
Take Me High Vanessa Miroshkina
Juliana Martinez White LED
Lucas Chemla 7
Reach Me Trees Mia Batista
Reel Perspective Kristina Godfrey
Neighbor’s House Madelyn McDonald
Starry Eyed Natalia Soccaras
Ripples Arian Djahed
Tea Party Madelyn McDonald
It’s Rooted in Me Vanessa Miroshkina
Assassination of a Blood Orange Mary Hanson
Urban Lanterns Arian Djahed
Offerings Arian Djahed
Faceless Army Arian Djahed
Painted Lady Alex Levine
Libra Mia Batista
What I Spilled Out Mary Hanson 8
The Thinker Mary Hanson
Sloped off and glum Mary Hanson
“Because” by The Beatles (#1 and #2) Giulianna Bruce
Vintage Cars Helena Cardillo Ramos
“Autism and My Brother” Photo Essay Sophia “Bell” Lopez
Wonder Vanessa Miroshkina
Kaleidoscope Mary Hanson
Consumed by Red Vanessa Miroshkina
the stereotypical fisher Mary Hanson
Bouquet Mia Batista
Landscape Sofia Vasileva
Sea Iris Mia Batista
Fireflower Josh LeHockey
Keys Helena Cardillo Ramos
Greyscale Paramount Giulianna Bruce
Night Avraham Gil 9
Dancing with My Love I love to dance, especially dancing with the girl, whose pale white skin glows in the moonlight. When she dances, she is stiff, but I still love her. As the sun rises, I have to go. I donâ€™t want the mortician to see me with my love.
Unorthodox Love Poem I wanted to know the boy in the prized photograph. His black hair scabbed the upper third and cut into his eyes whose irises, as brown as mango pits, met me at my seat. There were lines interred softly on the pillows of his face, and the same dark specks, that on elegiac days I’ve seen swell in the concrete and blot my vision, settled around his mouth. I blamed my imagination that he didn’t exist beyond the frame. He didn’t conjure like the secondhand sunshine that broken beer bottles regurgitate on Miami’s beaches. If he did, then rivulets of condensation would arc and merge, an unbroken imitation of arms akimbo-better still: the panels turn out the window’s black slits, a contract consummated with a worm of white string. The burgeoning thoughts grew consecutively within the first like a cancerous rose then died as they lived, by the thought: I am going to delight in being mine and being someone else’s also.
The Symbiosis of
Day Night and
I asked the sun why she blinds my eyes with her beaming rays. But she simply smiled and fertilized the withering weeds. I asked the sun to reveal her forbidden truths, but she simply smiled and provided me warmth through her outstretched amber arms. She illuminated the darkest of tunnels and guided the wandering souls out from the abyss of despair. And when the moon soared into the dancing stars and sunless sky, I asked, “Where is the sun?” But once again there is no response; the moon simply disappeared. Alone as before, I pondered, “Who is more beautiful?” The moon who allows the sun to shine throughout the day, or perhaps the sun who allows the moon to glimmer at night? Chaya Hazan
The notes drew him in like sand to a wind storm. He walked aimlessly towards them, not feeling the ground beneath his feet. It wasn’t until he approached the small figure at the piano that he realized his intrusion. She flipped her hair to the side as she switched melodies. He caught a glimpse of her tear-stained face and was stuck. He couldn’t move if he wanted to. She moved into a slow, longing song that was, in every way, inescapable. She never turned around, and he slowly backed away as the song came to a close. As he sauntered back into the house, he felt the tears fall from his own eyes, twin to the girl’s at the piano. The next day he spent wandering. The voices in his head were different that morning, softer, and he set off to find out why. As he marched through the secrets of his mind, his physical movements were suspended to their own aimlessness. He was stuck in a maze where every path he took lead back to her. His thoughts, his dreams, the voices: they all belonged to the nameless figure of yesterday. So that was what he called her, “Yesterday.” As he identified that one thing that confused him, the maze opened up and he was free to leave. As he returned to his body, he thought he might try and find the girl. But he knew he never would. And so it was up to her to find him first. People didn’t come around to see him much anymore, occasionally the baker from down the street would stop by to drop off a loaf of bread. She had been a good friend to his mother when the family was still alive and when his mind meant more to the world. The sun was starting to set by the time he returned home. His mind maze took up almost all of the day and he had to get back before he lost his way completely. As he took the short path back, he thought he heard music in the air. Knowing himself all too well, he chalked it up to his mind wishing for things that would never come. He fell asleep to the ghost of a melody that would always stay just past his reach. The blue light of early morning scared him. He felt that the world was as intangible as his thoughts. It was an unpleasant feeling of uncertainty. Nonetheless, he had already woken up and there would be no returning to sleep, even if he dreaded the hour he would have to
wait until the sun finally rose. Music drifted in from the window. The morning was too early for reason to quell his curiosity, so he followed its tantalizing sounds. In nothing but his briefs from the day before, he stepped through the forgotten country side. The music forced him back into his earlier vigil. He lost all train of thought, but he felt something for the first time in a decade and more strongly than ever before, watching that girl at work. She did not cry this time, but he had no way of saving himself from the stream of emotions that drowned him. His mind couldn’t catch up to the blaring emotion that awoke him like the frightening trill of an old, rusted toy. He hadn’t known pain, or life, like this since his parents died. As if the rebirth of the boy was absorbed into the air they both breathed, the girl felt the change like a sailor feels a coming storm. She turned and smiled. He stuttered an apology at his interruption. She continued her playing. He turned and walked away. The next day followed as it usually did. The boy spent hours in his head, searching for something he would probably lose again anyway. The girl haunted his every thought, dream and action. He would look for her sometimes in his head, or in the country behind the house. But never again would he see her — as if the moment she laid eyes on him she became invisible to the world. As if anyone who truly sees him turns to dust in an instant. He had that effect on people, he supposed. She faded with the wind as the fragments of his mind painfully grasped at her streams of song. The melody would follow his dreams everywhere. No matter how many more pieces of his mind drifted, the girl at the piano, her tears, and her song, remained like the stubborn wet leaves on a glass window, no matter how cracked that window might become. Had it all been a dream or was it really just yesterday?
17 Mia Batista
Two Strangers On The F Train
To a Lost One The moon shone as I thought of you. I asked the wind for advice, gazed at the stars for a story. I sought a reflection of you in the river, reached my hand out, hoping you would come back, but the ripples slowly erased your face.
Train tracks running in different directions Sitting in cold, dull orange seats, dim yellow lights Two people look out the windows at each other Their eyes meet The split second gaze made time stop They stare deeply at each other outside of reality Feeling weightless, overwhelmed Gives birth to what love can be
The wind cannot answer, the stars wonâ€™t show your story, and water canâ€™t remember faces.
But it leaves as fast as it came Two trains running in separate directions Zeina Bazzi Davin McCormack
A spring morning indoors Two years ago March we dyed our hair the color of Marigolds in the melancholy-filled morning. All that I needed then was not there, but you. Here in this morning sitting on the cold bed hearing the birds crying out to one another my heart cries out to the person we used to be with hair the color of black stars.
An autumn evening in pain The fallen leaves around me announce the departure from life. The cold nature of my person reminds me of your departure. The last time you were with me was two years ago. The last dream I had of you was two nights ago.
January at last
Four Poems for Happiness An afternoon in the ocean I lay down on the soft sand with wild wind whipping my face, with salty tears like the ocean stinging my eyes barely able to hold them in. I reminisce about the time we were together, your effect on me constantly crashing down in waves. I long for your radiant smile, for your joy was enough for the both of us. When you left we were still young. 20
You dedicated that September to the dead leaves surrounding a naked tree when you chose to disappear: “You’ll see me again when the snow falls.” But we live in Miami. On occasion I see you in my smile. I hear you in my laugh, I feel you in my heart, or what used to be my heart. Now it’s a husk like the old coconut shell you stepped on as you walked away.
Arielle Germeus 21
N O S T A L
G I A
The London skyline twinkles tonight and the foggy winds of the moors sing their melancholic and mellifluous song in anticipation, awaiting her arrival. The manor door adorned with a Christmas wreath -- not even its heavy slam could be heard above the joyous buzz inside. In the great banquet hall where the walls are rich with Victorian carvings, womenâ€™s dresses sweep the floor, children scamper up and down draped staircases and throw grapes stolen from chalices, an uninvited debutante enters. Red poinsettias in their vases become jealous when they see the dusty blue periwinkles that carpet the ground around her -the petals so potent in their warm recollection they once reminded Rousseau of a past love. The married women longingly gaze at the strangerâ€™s long, lazy afternoon shadows that stretch across the foyer and are reminded of the honeysuckle days of their youth, yellow and sweet. Gone and never to return. Who is she? What is her name? She is but the burning sensation on the tongue that lingers hours after that Earl grey tea of the morning, her faint memory in our mouths but her name incomparable in its elusiveness. For when children outgrow their flowering pots and are planted outside among the rest of the garden, her name remains sealed in the terra cotta, only to be momentarily known again today in an obscure scent or a certain Beatles song. But those children in the banquet hall know her name. They wonâ€™t tell anyone, of course. They are still living in yellow and sweet honeysuckle until one evening, they undress into their pajamas to find their bodies wrinkled, sagging, and shielded from love. Those days have flown south, never to be seen again. Honeysuckle is replaced with Nostalgia. Today, however, the grapes continue to fall onto the floor and the morning cup of tea is still full. Giulianna Bruce
An Inquiry into
Adolescence Dear Friend, Adolescence is an age of firsts. A time when the transformative growth of our bodies parallels that of our social flowering. A time when our sense of empathy decides to deteriorate or blossom. A time when we struggle to define our undefined statuses. Never again will our heightened sense of vulnerability rival the strength of the protective walls we build around ourselves. These fleeting years have the power to ripen our souls for better or worse. Everything we experience is like treading through unknown land. Seeking a road made of light. Longing for a path that can rid us of our anxiety, depression, confusion, and self doubt. We think this boulevard is lonely and deserted, home only to us. But then we realize we are wrong. Wrong because we hear Holdenâ€™s voice and feel him as a friend. Wrong because Gene says otherwise. Wrong because Charlie is alongside us.
*** You are aware that I am an avid reader. You have noticed the way books impress upon my spirit. The question you pose asks of me an all-encompassing perspective, a perspective difficult to decipher amongst the crowded brain 24
25 Alex Levine
of an adolescent. However, I hope despite all odds my response will carry with it enough meaning to influence your opinions on comingof-age literature. The matter of fact is, there has only ever been a handful of novels that have truly tugged at the strings in my heart as well as the strings that reside in my cluttered mind. Of these novels, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the only book to faultlessly voice what I consider to be a collection of ineffable thoughts, stationed throughout the restrictive corners of my consciousness, thoughts so vulnerable and delicate that if pen were to be put to paper the ink would instantly dissipate. For better or perhaps for worse, Chbosky managed to craft an authentic story of love, loss, and self discovery. He gave us vision into the configuration of the adolescent condition. His words glow with truth and certitude, a quality rare amidst millions of narratives. If I believe this novel is a worthy embodiment of my most inner thoughts, surely there are individuals all over the world who share my opinion. Books that deal with teenagehood have the power to strike a chord within all of us. This impact is intimate and visceral because every reader can attest to having traversed through their own experience. We are bound together by this commonality. No matter how rejected or abandoned we feel Holden, Gene, Charlie, and several others remind us that we are no more lonely than a bird surrounded by its compelling flock.
“All the books you’ve read have been read by other people. And all the songs you’ve loved have been heard by other people. And that girl that’s pretty to you is pretty to other people. And you know that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you were describing unity”(Chbosky 96). Charlie lives in the hearts of all of us. The moments when sadness and confusion subside are the moments when Charlie learns that he is not a soloist living an estranged reality. When he is capable of realizing that there are others who have been impacted by the words he loves, his world is ultimately brightened. The authors that speak to these impressionable years of our lives bring out in each of their readers an individual feeling. The full potency of each of these timeless works of adolescence cannot be realized unless they stand alongside one another, a collective group. A group which functions to emphasize the beauties of each of its participants, a group which ignites our flaming passions, a group which transforms the perspectives on the world around us.
P.S. Please know that there is something very reassuring in knowing that others share similar experiences. It convinces the human heart that it is not all alone. Eventually, after years of searching for a road made of light it appears before our eyes, effortlessly like a dream. We take a faithful leap and hear our individual voice harmonize with the sounds of the echoing chorus that greets us on the other side.
Love Always, S.
Tears of Joy
Every time joy works inside me Anonymous And falls off my lips Sadness wakes up to look around Through the windows to my soul And spills itself a little Reminding me joy isnâ€™t the only one that lives in me
HALF PAST TEN Bell Lopez
Staring me in the face as I walk through the door, the pile of clothes seems to glare at me, asking, “Why haven’t you put us away? We lie here untouched when we should be in drawers or on hangers. ” Two glasses of water sit on my desk like stubborn toddlers with candy in their sights. I sit at said desk knowing I have hours of work to do and an hour to do it, but the stacks of books on my desk stand their ground from their horizontal positions. I turn to my bookshelves, but they have filled. I move the books to my bed on which my duvet crumples, my backpack lies, and my stuffed animals are strewn about at odd angles. Another blanket seems to make itself at home on the floor. Shoes chill in the bathroom. Sandals hang out in front of my bookshelf. A sharp pain starts in my chest, popping up in my head and my wrists, and there’s this string pulling me towards the things out of place, compelling me to right them. My head says, “You are tired. You have work to do.” I listen. I need to listen. I work around the piles of books, thinking of other things. I finish my tasks, and I cannot clean. The clock spins itself to half past ten. I sleep at ten. I cannot be up at half past ten. I rush through the work. I brush my teeth. I move the books from my bed back to my desk, and, leaving the fallen blanket on the floor of my room, I try to sleep.
Views If your eyes could talk What would they say? With all the things they’ve seen What’s their favorite view? If you were to ask me, Yes, I have seen many beautiful faces I have seen the stars and oceans But if you were to ask me My favorite view is to see you smile. All I want is for you to be happy.
A poem doesn’t ask much, or maybe, it asks everything. The cliched— you read it, it reads you. Fair trade. But, if anything, it requires empathy. Or at least the inscrutable desire to layer the folds of your brain with another’s. It requires that strange, incurable smile propped unnecessarily on the uncommon passerby. And after getting their ears pierced, a small tilt toward the next in line, the stranger’s eyes, “It doesn’t hurt, not nearly as much —”
C a l l Me Is h m a el The Human Chorus Sofia Paredes
The spiel that high school students are given at assemblies, class meetings, and in the classroom about the importance of establishing oneself as leading voices in our community is veiled with, as J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield would say, “phoniness.” One way students may partake in this is by starting a community service project. While serving one’s community or the world in general is always appreciated by people in need and can be a truly beautiful thing, it is disappointing to see students do it in order to embellish their college applications by saying that they helped homeless people whose names they’ll forget or sick children whose faces they’ll dismiss as soon as they receive an email from their top-choice institution starting with the words, “Congratulations!” During my high school career, I have never gone out of my way to become a leader. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t strived for success, but instead that I don’t agree with practicing leadership in the way that it has been encouraged at my school. While I have always been personally satisfied with my view on this subject, I have also felt a bit estranged as I felt that all of my peers dreamt of being a leader, and that my community expected me to do the same. Our society praises extrovertedness, alienating those who are more introverted. However, I never voiced these opinions of mine with my peers or teachers, in fear that I would be criticized. I started to accept this condition, until studying a piece of literature made me realize that I am not alone in feeling this way. Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick allowed me to understand that I am not an outcast; I am actually a part of a larger human chorus. The novel’s protagonist beckons to, “Call [him] Ishmael” (Melville 3). This name is a reference to the Old Testament’s story of Ishmael, who was forced to move far away from society and his family. As the plot of Moby-Dick progresses and Ishmael’s character develops, it becomes more and more evident that he is the opposite of a leader. He is an introverted, observant crew member aboard The Pequod. He does not take to the sea in the hopes of making a name for himself in the whaling business, but instead to escape the loneliness and gloominess that permeates his life in Manhattan. It seems
as though Ishmael’s purpose in Moby-Dick is purely structural, simply to narrate the adventures of Ahab and his crew aboard The Pequod on their quest to cast vengeance upon the notorious white whale, Moby Dick. He is rarely a part of the main action, and is sometimes missing all together. There are stretches of the novel where Ishmael even ceases to narrate the story. Instead, Melville uses an omniscient third-person narrator, giving the appearance that Ishmael is altogether irrelevant to the progression of the plot of Moby-Dick. Yet, it is Ishmael who discovers life’s true meaning as an allegory for sailing aboard The Pequod. He explains that the whaling ship has served as “[his] Yale College and [his] Harvard” (Melville 93). His status as an outcast is further proven at the very end of the novel: when Ahab’s mission is unsuccessful and the ship is destroyed by Moby Dick, the forgotten narrator becomes the lone survivor. Captain Ahab, undoubtedly the ship’s leader since it left harbor, dies a tragic death after he lets his monomaniacal goals and pride get in the way of making sane and rational decisions that take into account the safety of the rest of his crew. Ishmael, on the other hand, is picked up by The Rachel, another whaling ship, and his position as experienced whaler is confirmed. Ishmael’s journey and character development, or lack thereof, leads him to an ultimate resolution that proves the irrelevance of being a leader, or even just extroverted, to reach triumph. Ishmael taught me a crucial lesson about the concept of leadership. While “being a leader” might look important on a college transcript or for my school’s rankings, leaders don’t become so deliberately, and the path to success isn’t paved by the nominal and empty title of leader. Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick showed me that I am not alone in my feelings toward the concept of leadership, and that I am instead one voice that is part of a larger human chorus that sings against society’s nonsensical expectations.
one student’s opinion:
SKORT LENGTHS Giulianna Bruce
I’ll begin with the fact that I respect most rules. Shorts and skorts at MCDS “cannot be too form-fitting” and “must be fingertip length or longer.” On the surface, this rule seems sensible. The basic reason behind such a rule is that the faculty and administration don’t want Upper School girls walking around in short skorts. That seems understandable, right? But why don’t they want this? To answer that question, turn to page 24 of the 2019-2020 Upper School Parent-Student Handbook. The first sentence of the “Dress Code” section states that the reason behind these rules is to “maintain standards of dress and appearance appropriate to the seriousness of academic pursuits.” Now, for a second question: what qualifies as something appropriate to serious academic pursuits and why don’t short skorts fit these qualifications? According to these rules, the female body has no place in the school environment because its form does not maintain certain standards of “seriousness.” I’ve seen it in the halls -- girls frantically pulling down their skorts when they reach the door of notoriously strict faculty, warning their friends on days when uniform citations are being written at unusually high rates. Of late, uniform citations targeting girls’ short skorts have become prevalent, with some girls receiving multiple citations just a month into the school year.
Helena Cardillo Ramos
This is how it usually plays out: a member of the faculty or administration points her out in a crowd. She is sent to the Dean’s office and reprimanded. After having her own learning interrupted, she is finally allowed to continue with her day. Ironically, what she is wearing is supposed to be the disruptor of learning. She
doesn’t think much about the reason behind the rule she has broken. It’s time we start thinking about the reason. The Upper School Handbook does not explicitly state why form-fitting and short skorts detract from the seriousness of the academic pursuits here at MCDS. Would we, as Upper School girls, appear to be more serious about our academic pursuits if we wore Risse Brothers trousers rather than skorts? This apparently proves to be true. Telling girls that the length of their skorts can detract from the “seriousness” of an environment is an outdated concept, a result of the puritanical foundation this country was built on by our forefathers -- the same forefathers who did not consider women in our Constitution. How can we achieve total respect and equality when we are still tethered to traditionalism and constrained by sexist conservative values? It would not be outlandish to claim that by telling young girls that their skorts detract from the “seriousness” of an environment, we are promoting rape culture. Rape culture in no way means that our society promotes rape. It does, however, cultivate the toleration and justification of sexual violence and the practice of blaming the victim. Rape culture normalizes and defends the exploitation of the female sexuality, or the sexuality of any gender for that matter, due to sociological beliefs surrounding gender and what “should” be. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “she was asking for it,” that’s rape culture, and these rules indirectly submit to that concept. If you’ve ever heard someone ask, “what was she wearing?” upon hearing that a girl was raped, that’s rape culture.
does, however, cultivate the
and the practice of blaming the victim.”
Our character is not measured by the length of our skort. Skorts of a long length do not indicate prudishness and skorts of a short length do not indicate suggestiveness. They certainly do not indicate how serious a girl is about her academic pursuits. They do not indicate anything. They are pieces of fabric, though we treat them as so much more. These rules instill a preconceived notion in the minds of little girls that they are preyed upon. That may seem shocking to some, but it’s the truth. These rules make us feel dirty. They make us feel like we’re doing something wrong by being female and that we shouldn’t embrace ourselves. These rules cultivate systemic sexism in our society. We are spoon-fed these rules until they become hardwired into our brains: don’t walk alone at night, don’t leave your drinks unattended, don’t smile too much or you’ll give the wrong impression, don’t keep a straight face too much or you’ll give the wrong impression. “You’re not seriously leaving the house dressed like that, are you?” To girls, harassment seems inevitable, so the only thing we can do is try to avoid it. Society doesn’t teach: “don’t harass!” Instead, it teaches: “don’t get harassed!”
“It [rape culture]
From an early age, girls are taught that their bodies are distracting. Their bodies are sources of arousal that must be hidden. Their bodies are disrespectful and distasteful. Their bodies are offensive. In order to be taken seriously, girls must dress modestly. So, we are told not to wear short skorts. That’s the way it has been and the way it is now, but that’s not the way it has to be.
But, like everything, dress code does have a limit. Women should be taught how to value their bodies and respect themselves, rather than be ashamed of their bodies and hide. I can’t define the universal line between short and too short or tight and too tight for all women, so we must define these lines for ourselves. We know our bodies the best. So, to this I say: let us be the judges of our own skorts. Let us be the masters of our own bodies.
Two plus two is four. Obviously.
A force of gravity allows us to walk on the ground at all times. Basic stuff. The Earth is round. But, wait, is it? When I first heard of “flat-earthers,” I thought it had to be a joke. People on the Internet probably created this faction as a form of political satire against climate change and evolution skeptics. Nevertheless, research into these self-proclaimed truth-holders showed that there are indeed people who believe that the Earth is flat. That NASA was lying to us with their pictures of the Earth. That “globeearthers” are unwittingly promoting the government’s plot to keep us in the dark. You might still think I’m kidding about this, and frankly, I don’t blame you. Unless the hundreds of avid globe-deniers that filled the Crowne Plaza in Dallas, Texas for the Flat Earth International Convention on November 14 and 15 comprise the best orchestrated theatrical phenomenon of the twenty-first century, I’m (unfortunately) not kidding. These people genuinely believe that every map of the Earth we are familiar with is a conspiracy and that the quote-on-quote scientists who have pushed the spherical earth model are trying to protect the government’s supremacy, even if it means shielding the public from the truth. But, as nonsensical as it may sound, this is not the first time the science-renunciation phenomenon has appeared. Let’s pose a hypothetical scenario. You eat candy day in and day out without ever brushing your teeth. You, unsurprisingly, wind up with a terrible toothache. The first dentist you go to says you have a cavity and you need to stop eating so much candy, start brushing your teeth and get the cavity removed immediately. For some reason, you decide to go to ninety-nine more dentists. Ninety-seven of the hundred say the same thing as the first, 44
whereas only three say you seem fine and should continue with your current habits. Who do you believe? Any logical person would tell you to go with the opinion backed by the 97% majority. Rudimentary, right? According to NASA, 97% of meteorologists agree that humans are causing climate change. By the aforementioned dentist logic, you’d think that we’d collectively -regardless of whether we lean left or right, who we voted for in the last election or which religion we believe in -- decide to do something about the damage that we (along with previous generations) have caused. You’d think we’d at least join in an attempt to make this world inhabitable for the next generation. Still, those with dime-store scientific knowledge have decided to interpret data that clearly shows the detrimental effects of industrialization on our planet such that these “strange patterns” can be explained by the Earth’s “natural fluctuations.” They discount the fact that the world’s average temperature’s spiking trend has not been irregular since the onslaught of industrialization, and that such a change is unprecedented. And then there are those who pretend to not be a part of the problem by saying that climate change is occurring, but it can be reversed through small changes like using paper bags instead of plastic and growing a small garden in one’s backyard. Though these can make a difference in our carbon footprint, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the former president of the United Nations’ General Assembly stated in March of 2019, “We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet.” With such high stakes, it seems absurd that people believe that by solely advocating for small changes in our daily lives, which will at best, only be followed by a fraction of those in positions of privilege, we will solve the monstrous dangers that climate 45
“It is critical to remember this: science is not part of a liberal or conservative agenda. It is simply science.” 46 Isabella Stripling
change imposes on us. Though humans do negatively impact the planet in their day-to-day lives, solving climate change won’t even be feasible until restrictions are placed on big companies to curtail their carbon footprint, even at the expense of their profit. Before you accuse me of going against the capitalist principles this country was built on, I beckon you to take a big breath and bear with me through my next lines of reasoning. As a person who grew up in a socialist country, and subsequently was forced to flee it, I understand and praise the benefits of the laissez-faire economic policies that this country prides itself on. However, laissez-faire has its limits. The same économistes who came up with these ideas in 18th-century France recognized that this policy could only function if the government could intervene in the economy to preserve property, life, and individual freedom. In the face of climate change, companies like the mere hundred that were said to cause 71% of global emissions by a 2017 Climate Accountability Institute report, are disrupting the property of all humans (the planet), and the life of all those generations that will be destined to live in an irreversibly damaged planet lest we enact major change now. Regulating carbon emissions will benefit all humans: it doesn’t matter what end of the political spectrum you’re on, or whether you’re CEO of ExxonMobil or a subsistence farmer in southern California. When Hirohito’s Japan was threatening America during World War II, the entire country rallied together to defend this country, regardless of where everyone stood on the political spectrum. When Al-Qaeda members caused the death of almost 3,000 people in New York City on September 11, 2001, the entire nation rallied together to fight Islamic extremism, regardless of where everyone stood on the political spectrum. When climate change models predict that the increasing average temperature across cities in the United States will bring devastating heat waves, severe rainstorms, and droughts, the entire nation should rally together to fight the effects of human-caused climate change, regardless of where anyone may stand on the
political spectrum. It is critical to remember this: science is not part of a liberal or conservative agenda. It is simply science.
48 Juliana Martinez
A volcanic flame erupted from the ground And carried forth their wingless bird The dreamers were freed from their earthly prison And rising fast, the looked onward
But as they travelled far, their voices grew faint And outside forces broke their sail The computer spoke of errors and warnings This grand machine began to fail
They were leaving all that they had ever known To sail on a waterless sea The prospect of adventure lay before them And they had never felt more free
A frantic, frenzied panic commenced at home For the cord had been cut too soon A worldwide mourning had already begun, The signals no longer in tune
They could still communicate with friends at home Their voices gave them peace of mind The life cord must stay attached to Mother Earth So they donâ€™t roam this frontier blind
III. Salvation Up in the ship, a light shone through the cockpit Time seemed to freeze when it arrived The astronauts awoke to see the fulgor And were glad to see they survived This light did not come from a star or planet It seemed to have a smaller source But before they could find out its true nature, They were put asleep by its force
IV. Regression They awoke to find that they were back on Earth Healing in a hospital bed No one could explain how it is that they returned They were just glad they werenâ€™t dead The astronauts explained that a light saved him But few believed that this was true Some pointed above and said it was angels But many did not share this view A monstrous dispute began over the light But the astronauts did not care Their astral savior did not need explaining For it was no earthly affair
THE ASTRAL SAVIOR 50
Arian Djahed 51
Rising Sun Arian Djahed
Chapter Two Asura followed her parents down the slope, trying her best to keep up without giving in to the incline and falling over. “Father! I understand that you are concerned about me,” she shouted between gasps for air, “but could you please explain to me why I must be accompanied?” She finally caught up with Makan, who stopped at a level clearing between the expanse of alpine trees. “…especially when I am the only Neyan equipped with powers that would allow me to defend myself sans weaponry?” “Asura, my dear,” Makan replied while turning back to face her, “your question is justified. It would not make much sense to have someone like you, who is trained in the arts of both sparring and witchcraft, to be paired with anyone who could not do what you are already capable of.” “Then you understand why I am loath to take a companion on my journey,” Asura said. “Of course, especially since you were always so independent, even when you were no more than a babe. But, I see that you are doing as you are wont to do: you are jumping to conclusions; you so quickly and readily assume that your companion-to-be is of our stock. In reality, she is of a different species altogether, one who is born with abilities that any Neyan commoner would deem supernatural, even if they seem commonplace to you and me.” “Well, father,” Asura remarked, “I can see that even after twenty five years, what you may think of next still remains a mystery to me.” “Yes. Though I may be old, there is a reason that I am the one wearing this crown upon my head. Now, look, my child.” Makan pointed his finger due north. “Do you see yon forest in the distance?”
Asura gazed upon a wood shrouded in a thick fog whose hue seemed to change slowly and subtly. The trees looked quite foreign, for none like them grew on her side of the mountains. Though she had yet to tread beneath its boughs, she was quite familiar with this forest: it was the home of the sprites. Asura nodded her head. “It seems that I am finally understanding what you have in mind for me, father.” Makan nodded in return. “Yes; it is thither that we shall go, for there is no race more suitable to accompany my own daughter.” Asura chuckled lightly. “It’s curious… I cannot help but think of a childhood story involving an adventurer accompanied by a companion sprite.” “Rightly so,” replied Makan, “but these are more than spheres of light with wings and irritating voices.” “Your father is right, Asura,” said Asura’s mother, Zenya. “They are not to be taken lightly, and they are most certainly not the sprites of your childhood stories; they are a stubborn and free-spirited folk, and thus detest subservience above all else. So, do not think them less because of their smaller stature.” “Of course, mother. Do you know me to assume the role of the stereotypical obnoxious aristocrat?” “Never, Asura. And never would I even have al lowed such behavior! Now, let us continue. You must meet your companion ere night falls.” With all speed, they continued down the path. Asura remembered a particular tale that was regaled to her time and time again as a small child. It was no work of fiction, however, for it was a retelling of a pivotal event from her own mother’s childhood that explained 53
their fey neighbors. One bright summer day, her mother’s noble parents resolved to prepare a picnic near the foothills of the Okori. Once they concluded their luncheon, Zenya romped about in the verdant meadows as her parents kept a watchful eye while sharing a ram’s horn of mead. When she was near a set of bushes, a strange creature caught her eye; there seemed to be a winged humanoid figure no larger than her own hand leaping about over the shrubs. Without another thought, she followed the mysterious creature, vowing to catch it in her little hands to proudly present to her parents. During her pursuit, she found what seemed to be a tunnel running under the mountains, which the creature swiftly entered. Zenya boldly followed into the darkness. Meanwhile, her parents noticed that their young tot had eluded their watchful eye. They worryingly arose and began a thorough search of the place. As this happened, Zenya emerged from the mouth of the tunnel to find herself in a dim forest cloaked with a translucent mist. She, knowing nothing of the fear of a cautious parent, continued forth, looked up, and smiled at the wonder of it all. Her entrapment in the oddity of the place was then cut short by a sudden loss of balance. Her body—heads, knees, and all— crashed onto the grass-laden earth, and she swiftly turned back to see the source of her fall. Upon doing so, she locked eyes with yet another small humanoid creature, much like the one she chased. However, the one that was now grimacing back at her seemed to be older in age and broader in constitution. “An intruder!” the creature exclaimed. “We have been breached! An elf is within!” His wings, which resembled something akin to a fusion of dragonfly and butterfly wings, began to move up and down in harmonic motion, accelerating until they were nothing more than a blur emitting a low hum. “I repeat, an elf is within!” he continued in a somewhat frantic fashion. Zenya, adamant on observing his glowing blue body in the palms of her hands, pursued her discoverer. It was not long until several more of these small fey creatures flew forth and met Zenya at a small clearing, hands glowing. 54
“Turn back, elf child!” the creature in the middle of the formation commanded. “This is our domain!” Upon hearing this order, Zenya set herself firmly on the ground, rigid in opposition. “No!” she retorted. “You cannot command me!” The commotion attracted a multitude of small flying humanoids from every direction, all clamoring and crowding about to witness the spectacle. They saw a short and somewhat plump elf with rosy cheeks and braided pigtails sitting on the ground, pouting rebelliously at the individuals who wished to shoo her away. Eventually, the same creature from the middle realized the futility of his initial plan and flew down until his and Zenya’s eyes were level. He attempted to communicate with an elf; such a connection had not been made for many years. However, considering how firmly planted the giant was, communication seemed to be the only other logical course of action to take. In other words, the sprite spoke out of desperation. “Young one,” he said, “whither are your conceivers? Are you elves not monitored by those who created you during your developmental stages?” Her pouting face soon curled into one of confusion. At the callow age of six, Zenya knew not what he spoke of. After a pause, he continued: “Oh, no matter. It has been ages, so it would not surprise me if my memory of elven customs betrays me. What is your name, little one?” “Zenya,” she replied. With this, a conversation sprang between the two. At length, Zenya learned that these winged creatures referred to themselves as sprites. In turn, the sprite, named Layu, learned that these “conceivers” that he mentioned earlier were called “parents” by elves in both colloquial and formal speech. This attempt at contact, though simple, was monumental: for the first time in ages, an elf and a sprite spoke to one another. This compelled the crowd to tarry for some time, but once the initial excitement and novelty died down, they dispersed and went about their normal routines. Eventually, Layu inquired why Zenya was come to their domain in the first place.
“This attempt at contact, though simple, was monumental[...]” 55 Arian Djahed
“I saw a sprite outside,” she replied. “She was playing, like me. I wanted to make friends with her, and present her to my parents.” “Yea, I did see a sprite rush in not long ere your arrival,” said Layu. “In fact, that sprite was none other than my own daughter, Yoseah. Would you like to meet her?” “Yes, sir, I would very much like to!” With that, Layu put his hand around one of Zenya’s fingers and led her to his daughter’s abode, which lay at a high point atop one of the tallest trees. The doorway consisted of an ornate hole carved onto the bark of the tree, and the porch was the branch that led to the doorstep. Layu let go of Zenya’s hand once the pair arrived at the tree. “Stay hither,” said Layu. “She lies within, and I know that you lack the wings that carry me to and fro.” “No need to worry,” responded Zenya. “I won’t move a muscle.” Layu’s wings began to flap at an accelerating rate, and he darted upwards into the doorway of his daughter’s home. He returned with a familiar figure: it was none other than the sprite that Zenya followed into the forest. “Zenya,” started Layu, “meet my daughter, Yoseah. Yoseah, this is Zenya.” “Nice to meet you!” Zenya exclaimed; she was visibly ecstatic over finally being able to make acquaintance with that creature that she desired so much to meet. “Have your parents ever taught you that it’s rude to follow people?” Yoseah snapped back. Zenya could immediately see an edge to her personality that was so rife that it seemed to emanate outwards from her body. “Yoseah!” Layu scolded! “She is but a child! Do not expect from her what you expect from a lowly criminal!” “I care not for her age or her track record; to be followed by a hulking behemoth several times your height is a most terrifying experience!” “Dear daughter, she meant well. She simply did as children are wont to do. Can you not see that? After all, you were once a child.” “Fine, father. You win.” Yoseah turned to Zenya. “I apologize for my uncouth 56
behavior.” Zenya simply nodded; she was still dumbfounded that she stood among sprites. “Well, Zenya, it’s getting rather late. Your conceivers—er, I mean, parents, must be agonizing over your absence,” Layu noted. Zenya nodded again, and the two winged creatures led her out of their domain back into the hooded bridge that partitioned this realm from the realm of the elves. Upon reaching the mouth, Layu turned back to face his daughter. “Yoseah dear, would you please go on ahead to the house and make sure everything is alright thence?” “Yes father,” Yoseah replied. She promptly turned to go, but then stopped suddenly, as if she had remembered something. She turned back to Zenya for a moment. “It was nice to meet you, Zenya. I hope you come back when you can, and perhaps then we can avoid hostilities and make better use of our time.” “Don’t worry,” Zenya responded with delight. “I’ll come back, and if my parents don’t want to come back to whither I found you, I’ll find a way to make them come back.” Yoseah cracked a slight grin. “Goodbye, for now.” She turned and flew away into the enigmatic mist. Once she was out of sight, Layu leaned over to Zenya’s ear and spoke in a low voice, murmuring, “please forgive my daughter’s initial attitude, Zenya; she has become quite irritable in her teenage years, but she is steered by a just conscience.” “It’s quite alright. I know she didn’t mean it.” At length, they appeared out of the tunnel’s other mouth and back into the light. Zenya’s distressed parents were easy to spot, and the three were reunited at last. As the sun set behind them, Zenya’s parents scolded her for giving them such a fright, but Zenya smiled all the while; she could not wait to relay a detailed report of her excursion. Once the opportunity arose, Zenya recounted her encounter with the sprites, all down to the most minute detail. Unsurprisingly, her parents were initially skeptical, for small children are wont to tell fantastical tales with the most fervent belief
in their reality. However, stubborn little Zenya demanded that they return to this place another day to prove that what she described actually existed. To Zenya’s surprise, her parents relented, and the three were back in less than a fortnight. Zenya combed the perimeter, but it was to no avail; all that she could find was the usual flowers and shrubbery. Once her parents beckoned her to come so they could retire to their chambers, a familiar hue of blue caught Zenya’s eye. She then beckoned in a manner that seemed to imitate her parents, and they came forth. They soon saw what prompted Zenya to call them over, and they were skeptics no more. For lo and behold, a sprite stood before their elven eyes in all of its blue brilliance. This sprite noticed its admirers soon afterwards and darted into the safety of the tunnel’s darkness. Unfortunately, Zenya’s parents never had the chance to see the realm of the sprites, but what their daughter showed them on that fateful day was proof enough: Zenya had formed a link that proved to be of more use than anybody could have possibly foreseen. Asura’s focus then returned to the present to discover that she now stood before the very tunnel that was spoken of in her mother’s tale. Asura turned back to her parents. “I must admit, it’s larger than I imagined.” “Aye,” said her father, “seldom do we imagine things exactly as they are, especially when the details are omitted.” “Indeed,” agreed queen Zenya, “but we mustn’t dawdle any longer; the fate of the world rests in our hands!” Zenya continued onward, and Asura and Makan followed suit. Once they entered, they escaped the light, and Asura was then consumed by the same sable maw that her mother first entered decades ago.
58 Madelyn McDonald
There once was a girl who tended to all of her master’s needs. Slavery wasn’t what they called her occupation though some from other worlds were quick to label it as such. Her name was Juliet and often it rang chords in people’s minds because it was resonant of an old fable in which two lovers live a long and happy life together. Serving her master appeased Juliet’s occasional contempt. There was a quiet comfort in the daily routine of her monotonous chores. What she loved most in the world was serving tea. Her master only bought the finest of leaves and it brought great pleasure to see the vibrant hues of dark liquid seep into one another like the colors of the horizon at dawn. Her master liked to drink his tea in beautifully decorated china. Dainty silver patterns intertwined to form a lattice trim that elegantly lay on the rims of the porcelain. Juliet was convinced that he had acquired it in foreign lands. Thoughts of strange places, places she has never been to before made her head spin. There were often lonely evenings when sleep never entered her room and her mind was possessed by the thought of leaving. There were never any destinations in sight, just the simple act of slipping outside and never looking back. Alas, she would never do this because the comfort of routine was imprinted on her soul. She was to stay in her master’s house and live out the rest of her days watching gentle tea leaves exude the shades of colors that painted her dreams. Sabrina Cabarcos
The grass is groggy and drenched in the morning dew. Her eyes penetrate the multi-colored stained glass window, painted with every hue. Her heart yearns to live in the stucco built house encircled by a perfect white picket fence. Why must he carry a bill when all she has is pence. Her sins crouch at their door, for her self-worth was not nurtured. She is lonesome in the Garden of Eden, plucking the forbidden fruit. It is here her envy pastures. In the perfect home, the housewife cooks dinner for the gods. Her loving husband returns from work and caresses her peachy skin and kisses a sweaty cheek, as she nods. She returns home, and screaming is her welcome. Dinner is served, Her parents’ marriage is still obscured. Each night, She lays lifeless in bed suffocated by fresh, white, linen sheets, Boring a hole into the cement ceiling above, Pondering the true meaning of her parents’ love. Broken dreams turned to silent screams. Deep within her heart her life crumbles apart. In the stucco built home, she hears no fights. Do they sleep well at night? Her eyes are red from sleepiness and tears. She buries her face as people come near. Others wonder if she is fine. She responds, “Oh, I am just divine.”
61 Vanessa Miroshkina
However, looking into her eyes, One will begin to realize These words are lies. No one can hear her cries. Her parents explain to her that their marriage is still alive. They continue to love, so it blooms and thrives. Sadly, she is not a believer, For according to her mother, dad is a cheater. “He lies, he hits, and still threatens me now.” Why did he not honor his vows? (“Perhaps you blacked it out, but thousands of times he has beaten me down.”) In front of the fence, the wife laughs, and the children play. This scene is the same both night and day. For a while, You did not smile. Your emotions hid beneath the ground. Nonetheless, she found them like a hound. Instead, you cried late at night, Before the sun, Long after the pigeons took flight. Now the mother has grown strong, yet still weak; Weak from her children, While he works hard in the snow, So dark and bleak. Your mother laughs when father recites a joke. Her mother’s laughter is a cloak. Name after name she is called through text. She advances and reads the next. “Father no longer lives with us. Every weekend he comes, there is a fuss. Our bags packed and we rushed. Into a comfortable hotel, we stay, Moreover, the plants at home decay.” Some of this walks in her past. She will forever hide these lasting memories with a mask. Her smile conceals it all. the sadness, the anger, and all of her falls. She envies the perfectly cut grass on their lawn, Though most of all she the quiet happiness that wakes their home at dawn.
S i l v e r B e l l s Caitlin Cherenfant
She leans against the growth marks of her brothers and sisters on the wall etched with a whittler’s knife. The scratches done by her own fingernails cover the wall as she tightly grips the door frame. Her pupils dilate as she stares at the scene. He mutters about the bloody murder of her, her siblings, and her mother, pacing back and forth with his velvet boots stomping on the floor. The little silver bells on the tongue clap along to the low baritone of his heavy footsteps. Father has gone mad. Her muscles become tense and her senses useless. Her brain flashes every possible scenario, all ending with the stench of spilled blood wafting in the air. She needs to tell her family now. But the floorboards sink with the sudden dead weight of her body. Lifting a finger might make them creak just enough for him to hear. She warily spins around and gazes at the long corridor to her mother’s room, calculating how long it will take to make it there. Her skin turns even paler at the sight of endless darkness. She slowly turns back around, curling herself up – making her cold knees meet her throbbing heart, and her quivering eyes meet the varnished silver bells of her father’s velvet boots.
67 Alex Levine
On A Good Day
My creeping dusk seeps into hell Brilliant oranges fade Giving arms retract, the diminishing rays swell, Darkness pervades Enveloped in piercingly silent gravity Presence looms, tugging at delicate fabric Taking its time, without rude brevity It weighs on the cerebral. Slow, unnoticed panic
REAPERS A crowd of them, blurred dots up above, Circle in the grayish sky, wings exposed To the chilled drops of rain pouring down. Like a swarm of bees, Their sting is inescapable, Cold and relentless. Roll down the window and you can hear their caws, Horrid screeches amongst the otherwise calm night. This tornado of feathered malice, Waiting impatiently for death to arrive, Swoops around and around the target, Casting grim shadows on the scene. Their eyes are a distant black, Unresponsive to a whimper below or a roar of thunder above. On the hard ground below them, Hopelessness bleeds out. As the reaper does, they sense the lack of life Smeared out of the pavement. From afar, you can see them dive down, And can only imagine what comes next.
With a greedy consumption of mind, Flickering memories devour self Maniacal laughter pulsates, a bystander to time But reality observes, perched on a shelf There will always be a blind attraction to light In flashing smiles, in passionate kisses, she begins to experience life
D e c o r t i c a t i o n ---
the act or process of removing the outer coverings (such as bark or husks) from something (such as fiber or seed).
I watch him replaced by the angry end of a cigarette that pits, fat as shrapnel, in his lips— as rivulets cleave the glass to islands and my palms whiten on the pane, he shucks himself, husk flapping in his hands, then plods through the backyard where sweet yellow pulps thump and sprawl at his feet like clotted seaweed. And, flinging along the strand, the unbelieving, impotent slop of his insides in arc streaks the grass like the stain of chum lines in currents; and with the same brown film as dried coffee, it snakes through the mangoes’ fibrous mass. The flies cloud. It smells of pennies and rot. Does it always smell like this? Having lost entrails and flesh, he slides awkwardly into his skin then proceeds to peel once again and again until he’s like the mirage cohesion of a ceiling fan, whose blades slap the air and fail to be separate. So when my arms slacken and kiss my hips, I’m unsurprised to see them settle like wet moths— to see my hands a part of the definite shape of my thighs.
A ra t a fish trapped and out of t in a box , s h A hu hudderi e ocean n â€™ s m The an bra g to bre gaze athe in, d amy . flow e g ing o dala an ad. d An i ut fr hipp n o bony flated h m the le ocamp us eart in th ft ear. A ta walls. tt e rib a fun oo of d cage e , a riv eral serv ath prin ted i er flo ice, n bo A su ld te n em wing ste xt, adily and e r g i . ng fr a do ve. om t he c aske t, Jord a
75 Kristina Godfrey
77 Mary Hanson
Empathetic Gasoline Emissions In June, it rains in the afternoons, but especially at night, and morning claims the remnants. I wake most days to dew as bulbous and distorted as fish eyes and to lungless air, punctuated by the smack of puddles. The sidewalk bloats with their watery smirks, and trudges fling up icy droplets that bite thighs with the same furtive sting as fiberglass. Their ubiquity had small pockets of facsimile: counterfeit rain puddles that scale kaleidoscopically in the sun; those better defined as streaks, sheens interrupted by ashen pimples of asphalt. Iâ€™ve met plenty, both grotesque and fantastic: the nostalgic stench of burnt plastic, some irrelevant scraps of landscape. and still, I canâ€™t help but pity these sad orphans of fuel tanks. Mary Hanson
An Island off the Coast of Nowhere Klara Meyer
I think of loneliness as the moment your last match strikes out and your fire goes dead. The embers laugh at you as you try and fail to heat them back up again. But you find something somewhere–– the embers stop their mockery, and you follow the sound of music to the warm fireplace across town or even across the globe. There is a stark moment of clarity where someone comes down and snaps their fingers, and suddenly you’re standing back up. Now, you are not alone in the cold. You’re on an island somewhere, and a million others smile at you. You smile right back at them. Songs remind us of the future – the hope we manifest for it and the fears we hold in its name. Words have an effect on every individual that can be neither foreseen nor erased. As you read books, sing songs, write stories, all of the characters, choruses, or plots fade and merge together, but the developments and realizations made within those things–and you as the audience– remain. These changes might sit in the dark and hide in the corners of your mind for your whole life, but they are there nonetheless. When words -- and more so, their meanings -- lock themselves in your mind, they stay hidden and quiet under the surface. In music, however, all things are released. Everything ever repressed or left unnoticed is expressed in the words that you had never been able to form. As is done while flying or reading or anything that places you both inside and outside of the world you are in, everything is reduced to tiny, orange, dime-sized lights on a skyline or to words on a page. The greatest of stressors is lessened with the click of a pen or rising of an airplane, and likewise, the strum of a note. When you find that there is a whole world right there beside you, what is there to stress about? Lyrics are a warm embrace -they are the safety-net web of words life gives you when an artist’s emotions become your own. You no longer live inside yourself– you live inside the heart of every single person who has heard that song. Music is a wireless connection from Albuquerque to Timbuktu. It’s an island off the coast of nowhere, where everyone is completely the same because everyone looks absolutely different. These island dwellers
are held together by only one thing––that mesh of music. The love of songs requires no qualifications––asking for nothing, while giving everything. The voices we hear in our favorite books are as loud, demanding, and eye-opening as the voices of our parents waking us up for school. Adversely, the artists of our favorite songs recall and compel from us things that we did not know we all desperately needed. What we understand the best is that which we hear the loudest, and songs speak louder than any other words can. You don’t have to be someone to hear a song and love it. A fellow island dweller, John Mayer, did this weird thing the other day where he gave me a brand new paralyzing fear, but then took the worry from it in the same line. In his song, “Waitin’ On the Day,” Mayer speaks of life as though he were still a child. The song is a first hand account of all of my deepest fears, but somehow the words didnt come from my lips, instead from those of a 41 year old man in Montana. I wake up and go to bed, and each day comes and goes with the possibility of everything-- of success, failure. I wish that someday my mistakes will turn out to be my successes and that my slip ups throw me down a mountain only to land me in a field of dancing flowers. Somehow, each of these little big worries that run rampant through my mind come back in showers of music notes and words from countless other islanders–all of them struggling through the same reel of small worries everyday right alongside me. Mayer wishes for a future, singing “I’m waiting on the day when my thoughts are my own, when this house is my home, and plans are made.” This– my greatest unrecognized desire–is something I had only ever feltl, but I now know how to put words to it because of his song. Almost like stumbling out of a dream, the song plays a movie of unresolved memories in my head, stirring up hidden, repressed, and forgotten resentments and regrets. But just before it ends, the song reminds you of everything that it is– the battlecry of countless people who struggled with the exact same issue. When guitars call out the words, “I’m waiting on the day when that voice comes to say that it’s not wrong what you did for just a kid,” children and adults alike cry for the hope that this statement brings. The 83
The mirroring of my fears of future and past regrets is staring right at me in Mayer’s own expression of guilt, sorrow, and the need for acceptance. To have absolute faith that everything will work itself out, that not everything means the end of the world, is to hold the key to pure contentedness. But for those of us who do not have it, there is still a place we find comfort– together. John Mayer’s inability to crack this code and his own uncertainty of his actions twines with mine, and the music starts to relight the fires of both myself, him, and everyone between us––forging bonds on every corner of the earth. Knowing that even one person, not to mention every other listener, can understand and relay the feelings and words I had not yet found represents my need for expression, reading, and music. I can feel the words that someone else is saying and have it mean more than anything I could have ever put on paper myself. The ultimate fear is being alone– perhaps in life, but more so with your own feelings. Try as we might, the world has yet to deter this fear from creeping into everyone’s life. To be the only person to know or understand pain or sorrow, and equally happiness, comfort, joy, and relief is to be the loneliest person on earth. If you can never share yourself with someone, no matter how distant that someone is, life becomes exorbitantly hard to live. Regardless of the individual worries that can be soothed through musical words, music, in and of itself, is a declaration of understanding that ultimate fear. It is the promise to free you from its grasp, to sit beside you and feel everything that you feel, no matter how different the reasons behind it all are. Stuck in the coffers of your soul is a deluge of emotions and memories whose key is held in just one word or one song of another. Everytime someone unlocks a part of our mind, the emotions flood out and leave only one thing behind: a sense of belonging– the shared sentiment that you are not the only one. And that one feeling that was made from an array of memories and experiences can venture through worlds to tie people together despite centuries of time and thousands of miles separating them. I will remind you, however, that without that ability to connect worlds, music loses its 84
magic and words become obsolete. It is a good thing, then, that reading is rooted in all people because of the way music is intertwined with everyone’s soul. The assurance music gives us molds islands of heat and joy that can thaw the coldest sorrows and uncertainties in people from every walk of life. We might sing our favorite songs to ourselves, but it is knowing that there are hundreds of others who are singing it with you that gives music its power and its light– its flame.
Helena Cardillo Ramos
at the O” Shining above your head and welcoming you on a summer’s day with posters and pictures of what awaits inside. Like a friend, it welcomes you with doors wide open, lights agleam, to sit amongst the others who want to forget about life for a while. Let the carpet walls slip away and reveal the wonders underneath, a funhouse of infinity where anything goes: put on your red, silk cape and soar above the clouds, or journey even farther, in your spaceship in search of lost planets and Saturn’s rings, or put that ring on a forbidden finger and prove that love can conquer, or dream of life beyond your tower until that dragon is defeated and true love emerges. But seasons change and fall will come and ancient ticket stubs sit and wait for someone to come and see what is “Now Playing at the O.”
Giulianna Bruce Belle Greenberg
This instrument Is an extension to another world. The reed vibrates On the bank of a river. The mouthpiece, the key To the power of improvisation. Feel the undulations of your flowing water, See the mother-of-pearl keys Nestled like crustaceans in a great delta. Hear the outpour of life into a sea of music, Imagining a world beyond this piece of metal. The saxophone needs a life force to awaken. You must notice your breath, Not letting yourself succumb To the pain of slinging out a single note Crying like a lamb without companions. Be brave in your breathing: Push out a squadron ready for battle, A nation of willing citizens, A powerful mass that speaks one truth. While I ramble on, You sit there wondering just how easy it must be To regurgitate an unoriginal lick, Bypassing the river to create a misinformed army, Forever lost, without hope of reaching the ocean.
Helena Cardillo Ramos
As the familiar aroma of lavender fills my lungs, I glance at the George Harrison record sitting idly on the turntable of my floral record player. That old melancholy silence invades my haven, the kind that replaces the melodies that once swam so freely as I did my math homework hoursyears before. Tell me a story, record of remembrance, tell me your secrets. Everything is so personal: the three snowglobes, Boston, D.C., New York, on top of my copy of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, the battered map of Walden Woods taped to my right where my father explained to me the cartographic art of contour lines.
Who gave you away? Your face, frozen in 1979, but your sleeve speeding past the city lights at 35 miles per hour as you lay on the passenger seat. Or were you in the trunk of the station wagon, in an abandoned milk crate jumbled with records of different genres sold for scrap money? Car radio playing songs you don’t know, speed bump, speed bump, speed bump. Were you hurt? When they inspected your body, front and back, lifting arms and looking behind knees, Sacrilegiously searching for scratches and bruises, your eyes for trauma, irises for any indication of misuse. Did you feel betrayed?
Perhaps, you were a gift to your owner -memorabilia of a fleeting romance, fiery candle in front of a blowing fan, sparked that one summer between the sand dunes of Death Valley. Each of your revolutions, like a silver scissor snipping away a stitch of your owner’s mending heart. Black wire thread, pins and needles, prickly needles tugging at tear ducts, threatening a flood. Or perhaps, they no longer enjoyed the song you sang.
Giulianna Bruce 90
November November was the month when my grandmother spent all her time making preserves. Some were thick, gooey, and never seemed to dissolve in your mouth, and others vaporized when they touched your tongue, like wisps of candied smoke. I liked seeing my grandmother put on her funny little cooking cap. She always made sure to tie three knots beneath her chin to make certain that it wouldnâ€™t fall off. I think that in November, my grandmother liked me the most. My sisters had to seek out affection; I was shrouded in it. Iâ€™ll always remember Novembers: Novembers coated in glistening marmalades, Novembers enveloped in candied smoke, the November when my grandmother drew her last breath.
Madelyn McDonald 92
Autism and My Brother
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects verbal and nonverbal communication, behaviors, and social interactions. 1 in 59 (or 1.7% of) children has autism, according to the CDC, including my brother. My brother, Nathaniel, and I are ten years apart so I play a decent role in his upbringing. He goes to school for a couple of hours every day and then he has various therapies throughout the week. Heâ€™s currently four years old. Up until some months ago, Nathaniel had a baby gate in the doorway to his room. My mom taught him to move the small toy piano in his room in front of the gate and use it to climb out. Once he had done this on his own without prompting, she removed the gate. Generally, kids attempt to climb baby gates themselves, but he had never shown an interest.
a photo essay by Bell Lopez
Nat has every book and show he likes memorized. Here he follows along with an animated version of a book with his own copy.
Because Nat has trouble sleeping, if he takes his nap too late, heâ€™ll wake up around 2 in the morning so my mom often has to wake him up from his naps.
Nathaniel could tell you how many sides a decagon has or how many nickels make up a dollar. He is fascinated by lights and often speaks using dialogue from TV shows. All of which are characteristics of autism.
When watching TV in restaurants, Nat either leans up to the iPad or holds it against his head like a boom box. When heâ€™s excited, he moves his arms around (almost as though he is flapping them) and looks up, smiling, to make sure whoever is with him is smiling, too. This interest in those around him is uncommon in young children with ASD though the arm-flapping is very common. 96
Inside of Nat’s room is the tent photographed right. He sometimes uses it as a hiding spot during my-mom-led hide and seek.
Nat had never shown his cousin, Adrian, any interest until Sunday when they played together. Children with ASD are often indifferent to those around them (especially other kids).
Nathaniel often tries to chase after cars in our building’s parking garage. He’s very cautious, but cars aren’t a danger he understands yet. 98
When Nathaniel was first diagnosed with ASD, we didn’t believe the diagnosis. We didn’t understand autism then nearly so well as we do now, and now, knowing what we’ve learned, we know his diagnosis is right. The way that he flaps his hands, speaks and quotes, is fascinated by the lights in my room, becomes overwhelmed when a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer is turned on, struggles with conversation (if you ask him “how are you?” he won’t respond because he doesn’t understand), etc. can all be attributed to his having autism. Nathaniel is smart and cautious and curious and bubbly and adorable and as stubborn as me or my dad, and he happens to have autism. 99
Colophon This issue of Amused was designed on an Apple iMac using Adobe InDesign CC and Adobe Photoshop CC. Amused is set in three fonts. The main text is set in Baskerville. Titles and bylines are set in Bely and Baskerville. The magazineâ€™s nameplate on the cover is set in Old Man Eloquent and Bely.
About Amused Published by the students of Miami Country Day School, 601 Northeast 107th Street, Miami, FL 33161. School enrollment for Upper School is 452, with a staff of 78. The poetry, prose, and artwork found herein are the original and creative works of the students. Copyright on all works is retained by the authors and artists. Email: email@example.com
Miami Country Day School