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C O N T E N T S Pushy, pulley factory |  Ben Landsberg

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neon anatomy | Danielle Rowe Northern Shuttle Bus |  David Polansky

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The Dark Side Of The Moon |  Kristin Terry conditional happiness | Vivienne Gao

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Grace | Yanni Pappas On Sundays | Elke Thoms

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Dropping a cigarette on Huntington Avenue | Patrick Glover The Taste | Hannah Levinson

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Seventh Heaven | Laura Ma !!! | Hannah Levinson

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Daybreak | Catherine Argyrople The Journey | Laura Ma

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Portal | Arunima Prasad Perennials | Gwen Cusing

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Creature of the Night |  Liam O’Donnell slip | Natalya Jean

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Window in Three | Taraneh Azar Yield | Jade Fiorilla

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Dumbphones | Ben Landsberg Pixie Dust | Sharon Zhu

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Self Portrait | Jade Fiorilla Skygazing | Callie Marsalisi

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Completion | Taraneh Azar For Haniyyah | Tess Hogan

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Lines | Jared Hirschfield A Trader Joe’s Tragedy | Will Smith

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Bird’s Eye | Liam O’Donnell

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Twisted Bicycle |  Delfina McNaught-Davis meditate | Andreas Petrides

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Forgotten | Mitch Gamburg 23 años | Sarah Better

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Santa Maria del Fiore |  Rowena Lindsay Speech on silent |  Aidan Meyer-Golden

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Six Seconds of Back Bay |  Patrick Glover the etymology of pining | Liam Bell

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Reflections | Jared Hirschfield

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Pain | Delfina McNaught-Davis Hunger | Remenna Xu

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axonometric | Laura Ma Sailors in a moonless night |  Liam Bell

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Pushy, pulley factory | Ben Landsberg


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Dropping a cigarette on Huntington Avenue | Patrick Glover


The Taste Hannah Levinson Newly glazed with apricot jam, she shines– sweet, bright, enticing. Open up, try a taste. Sweet sugar plum will leave you weeping for days.

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Daybreak | Catherine Argyrople


The Journey Laura Ma - Part I: Gerard   Gerard is a male, orange koi fish. He swims in a fake pond at a Chinese restaurant that also serves Japanese food, but most humans who eat there don’t know the difference. Gerard certainly doesn’t.   Usually, Gerard is fed fish food in the morning by the one-eyed chef, but today something is thrown into the pond at an unusual hour in the evening. It is a sliver of cabbage meant to garnish orange chicken. He chokes on it and dies. He becomes posthumously famous among the other koi fish in the pond and they remember Gerard as a martyr for choking on the cabbage thrown into the pond by an untamed human child.   In fish afterlife, Gerard joins a choked-on-something-besides-fish-food anon group full of other fish who were met with untimely deaths by ingesting objects not meant for fish consumption. Here, he meets Roberta, a blue tang that becomes his dead fish wife. They have a ceremony in a chapel under the sea. No one is invited and they quietly marry.   Years pass. And then more years pass. They realize they have not aged. Then, even more years pass and they realize that they swim within the same seven cubic feet every day. Gerard disregards the discovery. Roberta, however, is unsettled by it and grows increasingly anxious until she increases their cubic space from seven to eight feet cubed. Gerard is unexpectedly upset by the change and divorces Roberta. - Part II: Roberta   Roberta wanders through uncharted waters of the afterlife until she reaches a village with an assortment of dead fish dedicated to living minimalistically. They drink only water and absorb only sunlight, with the addition of ritualistically consuming fish peyote. They offer her water, sunlight and peyote and she accepts.   She integrates well into the village and after a number of years, she assumes the role of peyote shamaness. During a ritual she suddenly recalls the fact that she does not know how she arrived in the afterlife. She also remembers that she lied about her story in the chokedon-something-besides-fish-food anon group in order to impress Gerard, who thought her story about jumping out of the fish tank and into a glass of Chardonnay was romantic. She does not know what to do with the memory.   Shaken again by this epiphany, Roberta leaves the village and wanders aimlessly. North, South, West, East. Is up down, or is down up? She decides, arbitrarily, that she is swimming at a forty-five degree angle upwards even though no origin exists. Time passes. Perhaps a day, but then again it could be a year. Roberta is uncertain.   After an undefined amount of time, Roberta sees the surface of the water glistening in the distance. Surprised, she swims towards the light. As she draws closer and closer to the surface, her body dissipates into hundreds and millions of particles as she is engulfed by a blinding light. She felt as if she could feel the entire spectrum of her fish emotions all at once. Bliss and misery became one. Oddly, she has never felt any emotion to begin with, but now it was as if the entirety of her being was purely emotion.   Without warning, she appears in one piece as an orange koi fish in a fake pond located ina Chinese restaurant that also serves Japanese food, but Roberta does not know the difference, and neither do the guests who came to eat there. 9


slip Natalya Jean been walking unfamiliar streets lately holding my own hand i dropped my hat the other day bent over to pick it up my headphones slipped and i swear i heard you your breath but it was just a disgruntled puff of air escaping the tightly pursed lips of a stout German woman who scowled and stepped around the foolish girl crouching in the middle of a busy Berlin street paralyzed by a daydream believing she might pull a ghost from the road


Creature of the Night | Liam O’Donnell

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Pixie Dust Sharon Zhu We are constellations Except I’m over here and You’re over there and The lines that connect us -D-o-n-o-t-c-o-n-n-e-c-t-u-s-


Dumbphones | Ben Landsberg

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Completion | Taraneh Azar


For Haniyyah Tess Hogan Five years distended into one wrinkly, cardboard frown. When I say sister you think– Frizzy hair. When I say sister I think– Little man on my dresser, next to the porcelain dachshund I got after that break up (after it happened but before I told you) And on top of that Twin Peaks vinyl that you convinced me to buy (even though you’ve never seen it and I never use it). The art of the impulse buy– I got you that tapestry with the boobs, not because you’re gay but because it’s art! (artfully gay!) And so when I’m in bed (crying over that research paper or kissing some person or eating dark chocolate with caramel) And I look up and I see Danny Devito frowning at me I think– Sister.

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Bird’s Eye | Liam O’Donnell


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Six Seconds of Back Bay | Patrick Glover


the etymology of pining Liam Bell the etymology of pining is of German descent, actually just like he is peinen, to experience pain that seems about right, actually missing him is painful him not being with me hurts pine has also meant punishment that, though, i don’t agree with why am i being punished for wanting someone who used to want me too but outgrew me like a goddamn pine tree decided he was older, wiser, ready to continue on just when i started to set down roots he leaves me and i find myself googling the etymology of pining 21


Northern Shuttle Bus David Polansky Fifteen rows of yearning, tired heads, resting on the seats behind, staring straight ahead, through the windshield out the darkened landscape clad in dreary gray and ghostly bales of hay. We’re on a shuttle bus back home to Calgary. Cars silently lane past the frosted windows and we’re frozen, fifteen hours from one city to the next. I shut my eyes. We tunnel cold through Nunavut’s thick fog, drowsy and alone, pierced by the passing glow of roving yellow headlights. Then the violinist next to me rests her head upon my shoulder and we glow too.


neon anatomy | Danielle Rowe

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On Sundays Elke Thoms On Sundays he will not stir me from my sleep. His latest project, along with learning to salsa on the beach, is mastering the art of slipping from the covers in a way so as not to move me. When I feel him gone, I’ll smile knowing he’s rounding the corner and buying flowers in three, two, one. And when he steps back into our home slowly, he’ll find his coffee/tea/ice water waiting and he’ll smile when he sees I’m cocooned in blankets again. When he loses his shirt to join me, his scent, fresh from the morning happening outside, will make me need him more than any plant, beverage, or belonging. There is a notion that this kind of living is only how the first weeks, months, maybe years flow. But we are mid-sixties and our union is old enough to drink, and when it does so, it does so to celebrate. His laughter is a delightful raucous to me. And as the next many mornings wander through us, we do not fade out in a stretch of neutral colors and reading glasses. Rather, in our happiness, we rise and rise.

Grace | Yanni Pappas


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Seventh Heaven | Laura Ma

!!! Hannah Levinson Praise–something!!! Praise whatever forces in the universe allowed me to be here. I am so–!!! Ecstatic! Wrapped in some sort of–!!! I feel just– So– Sometimes, I pinch bite scratch rip the hair from my head to make sure I am alive. I dance!!! I traipse the lawn– I see a girl with a black jacket and yellow shoes and one with a yellow jacket and black shoes And it makes me feel so full that I could just– !!! Sometimes I want to reach up and hold the universe in my wingspan. Float on the currents that prove I am alive and a part of this– this– this life! I let the wind blow– I feel the gales I let it batter me. I–oh! How lucky! Thank you! I open my throat and the sound and the light and the life! Oh it is yellow, oh it is golden! oh it is– oh!!!

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Perennials Gwen Cusing autumn The night I was born, my mother clawed up the tiles in the kitchen floor and buried her deciduous heart beneath the mortar. Concrete-stained fingertips leave her more cement than girl: she weaves glass and steel into the strands of her shadow-dark hair, building a greenhouse in her chest that weathers centuries. winter My mother presses herself between the threadbare covers of an encyclopedia on the coldest day of the year. Her skin crumples under the weight of unspoken words, turning veins into valleys, staining the pages a faded marigold. spring Yesterday, the foundation of our house split under the pressure of six thousand yellow flowers, the sulfuric blossoms tearing drywall and hardwood into air. Her grainy sepia eyes wilted shut, my mother waters the bouquet of dried tulips on the splintered dining room table. She digs her burlap hands into the brittle earth and inhales, catching exhausted soil and cinder-block debris underneath her fingernails. Rest, she says. Bloom again when you’re ready. Portal | Arunima Prasad


Portal | Arunima Prasad

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Window in Three | Taraneh Azar


Y I E L D

Jade Fiorilla Sleeping tree smooth skin harmless. Candy breath singing wind springtime. Passing time growing tree crosswind. Freckled skin deep breath restless. Boundless cut time laughing breath. Blooming tree bare skin whirlwind. Howling wind reckless loving skin. Summertime proud tree kissed breath. Shallow breath whistling wind empty tree. Listless overtime aching skin. Sagging skin held breath forgotten time. Rewind harmless sleeping tree. Winded time skinny breath treeless.

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Self Portrait | Jade Fiorilla


Skygazing Callie Marsalisi my ribcage is a chasm strapped together with skin and perfume and widening with the melting glaciers; my climate is changing into something that no longer knows itself. my sky grows larger around me, and this is supposed to feel like freedom, but it is a hostile emptiness; the heavens scream for something with which to fill the space. there is a storm on the way; I can feel it on the surface of my muscles and skin, and I know that what is coming is the future, but the future for the first time is a mystery to me. the world is a mirror to a soul, permanently changed by willful ignorance; I thought everything would be okay in the end, but now I doubt I ever knew what that ending looked like at all. surely as my city melts into the sea, I melt into the mold of what I think I must one day become, and I wish I had paid attention when they taught us how to read the stars. 35


A Trader Joe’s Tragedy Will Smith   The silent standoff had been going on for a matter of minutes. The girl stood adjacent to him in the neighboring check out line and their eyes had met for a few precious seconds. Both parties were just as alarmed, yet by no means deterred. In fact, they had been ensnared ever since. They were of comparable age and both rather pleasant looking. That is, as far as either of them could tell. Personal profiles were gradually being developed over the course of a series of ephemeral glances. So far he had ascertained that she was tall, about as tall as he was, and athletic in an elegant sort of way. She had rich brown hair with blonde highlights that could not be found in a bottle and a skin tone to match. He thought she was gorgeous and judging by the Harvard Grad School sweater she sported, he could guess she was smart.   She smiled. Or maybe she didn’t, he couldn’t quite tell. He glanced away, important that he not be caught staring. Indifference was key, he thought. His eyes darted back and forth as he searched for something that he thought she would deem worthy of a prospective suitor’s attention. The search proved fruitless and all at once he became acutely aware of the outward appearance of his revolving head and immediately dropped his gaze to the floor. Floor was good. Floor was safe. Certainly no piercing hazel eyes or flashes of beautiful white teeth to be found on the floor. Wait shit, he cursed internally and his eyes shot up. Why would she consider someone who stares at his shoes like a dejected toddler? His overactive mind was about to settle on self-pity but before it could it hurtled around another bend. What was wrong with looking down, his brain stammered, people stared at the ground everyday and no one gave them a second glance! His eyes shot back to the plastic flooring of the supermarket and fiercely scrutinized the gleaming, freshly mopped yet perpetually sticky surface with a newfound zest. He eyed its acidic whiteness with a sudden benevolence, albeit panicked. It was a vital element of not just supermarkets but society in general, it did its job quietly and largely ignored and in fact, he thought desperately, we ought to be thanking it for the stellar service it provides. He gave his new ally a nod of gratitude. Abruptly, his current state of potential surveillance flooded back to the forefront of his attention. Fuck, he thought, abandoning the deeper question of the sticky linoleums role in society, at least pretend to be normal.   The open space of the store was alive with noise and movement, yet his shallow breath echoed throughout his skull as he ever so gradually dared to inch his gaze up from the shiny surface that was neither friend nor foe. His eye line crept from her running shoes to her fitted jeans and all the way up her figure until finally–oh thank fuck, false alarm. She was on her phone. The previous moment’s foolishness had gone unnoticed. The muted masquerade could carry on. His shoulders said their goodbyes to his ears as he gave a deep, but hidden, sigh of relief.   He rued the fact that there was hardly anything to busy oneself with in the tedious wait for a register, other than dismissing the incessant pedaling of seasonal groceries. Pumpkin Spiced corn chips. Well shit, he thought, not exactly the corn chip that Boston needs, but most certainly the corn chip that Boston deserves. What if this mystery muse had a particular penchant for the spiced chip in question? Perhaps he should buy them for her in advance, he pondered, something of a grand gesture with his current financial position considered. The scene played in his mind.

  ‘How did you know?’ She would gush, hugging the bag of chips to her chest, eyes beaming.   ‘It is my job to know, sweetheart,’ said a much deeper voice than his, dressed in a suit for some reason. The sickening scene faltered and the soaring orchestral score ceased. That line doesn’t even make sense, he thought sullenly, it wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test that’s for sure. The vision faded away and he was greeted once again with sensory overload. Not from the drone of fellow supermarket goers or from the scratchy PA system, and not even from the same two songs that rang out from the radio on repeat, but rather from the chaos that was raging inside the confines of his own head.   He did not necessarily know what to do but he knew what he wanted to avoid. He did not want to pull out his phone to show her that he, an interesting, thoughtful and compassionate man, did not need to resort to that instant gratification device to pass the time, no sir! No phones for this guy. Well, not until he was out of her direct line of sight at least. Such a notion could seem pretentious if verbalized, so he was happy with his silent display of carefully constructed genuineness. Was pulling out a book too much? Probably. This, of course, posed a problem in the hypothetical scenario wherein he did manage to get her number, but he did not concern himself with the practicality of his current pantomime and instead panned the room, pretending to be deep in thought.   He wondered what facial expression one who is deep in thought would exhibit. Perhaps they were so deep in thought that they would be an expressionless blank slate, lost so far up their own behind in search of introspection that they forgot to exude emotionality. He tried on this mask of theoretical intellect until his own gaze was met by none other than himself, reflected back at him off the supermarket window. He was startled, as the person he saw did not match his mental projection. He just looked confused. Confused and stressed.   The line shuffled forwards. At least, his line did. Her line stood resolute, unmoving. Disaster. He was now three positions ahead of her and just one away from the register. He wheeled around in panic, facial manipulation all but forgotten. The old couple in front of him gathered their bags and moved on. He could feel his heart beat in his temple. He was next. A discreet twist of his neck gave him the brief confirmation that her line still had not moved. Okay, think motherfucker, think. His brain shifted gears; the end game was in sight. An idea blossomed. If they happened to be walking out of the store at the same time he would have the perfect opportunity to nonchalantly strike up a conversation, profess his love, trade numbers and arrange a dinner date–and not necessarily in that order. Actually coffee, coffee was better. But, if he checked out before her the timing would be completely thrown off. He needed to stall, and stall hard. She might say no, a nasal voice in his head teased. He tried to ignore it but couldn’t shake that this was entirely possible. She probably already has a boyfriend, or girlfriend, or both. The seed of doubt spread instantly. A pit grew in his stomach but not before another voice came to his aid, okay so what you just do nothing? Go straight home filled with sadness and regret? The pit subsided somewhat. Well, he thought, there is only one way to find out. He blinked hard and the nagging voices quieted; the prospect of failure was almost enticing. He had never put himself out there to be completely shut down before, why not start now. A rush of


Lines | Jared Hirschfield

adrenaline charged through him and he snatched the bag of pumpkin spiced chips and threw them into his cart; right next to the Hulk skinned bananas that would be ripe next month. The register had been reached.   Pleasantries were exchanged with John, bag packing extraordinaire, but before either had finished speaking John was already throwing the weeks supplies into the paper bags at an alarming rate. He had never seen such speed! Lightning hands John was already halfway done and his courting mates line still had not moved. He eyed the culprits that were behind the hold up, the catalysts of his demise; a couple that fit the young-professionals-who-probably-work-at-a-tech-startup mold. They must have been perfectly harmless, kind people but at 5pm on this fateful afternoon they were selfish bastards who were destroying the tenuous tango that had his breath shallow and eyes twitching. How dare they, he thought bitterly.   John the packing sensei must have noticed his jaw clench.   “Everything alright, sir?”   At this, her ears pricked up. She tucked a stray curl behind her ear and looked straight at him. She stood less than six feet away. Their eyes locked and everything stopped. He could feel a warmth wash over him. Where there was tension there was now ease. His jaw unlocked and he felt his lips curl into a subconscious half smile. She reciprocated.   “Sir?”   The noise and activity of the store had ceased. He gazed

on, enthralled by her. Their eyes explored the contours of each other’s faces. With the charade dropped they gawked at one another. The seconds felt like minutes. She raised an eyebrow slightly, teasing him, as if to say go on then. A playful smirk flashed across her lips. He could feel his knees weaken. He was putty in her hands. The hint of emotion, the tease of a personality had captured his mind and body.   “Sir?–”   “CHRIST JOHN! CAN’T YOU SEE I AM A LITTLE BUSY?”   Sensei John’s mouth gaped. The outburst had come from deep within, it was much louder than he could have imagined. It was then that the noise and activity of the store flooded back to him–or more accurately, the lack thereof. Every set of eyes of eyes in the crowded register area was now on him. People had halted in their tracks, craned their necks to see what had caused the commotion. His ears rang. He tried to apologize to poor, sweet and innocent master John but failed. His mouth moved but no sound came out. Like a fish gasping for air he wheeled around to meet the hazel eyes that just moments prior had held such warmth. Their eyes met but there was no solace to be found. She chuckled and gave him the look a parent gives to a child after it has just soiled itself, then looked away. The magnets lost their charge. The cord cut. It was as if someone had switched off a light bulb. No, he thought, the light bulb wasn’t switched off–I have just blown it.   “Well, fuck.”

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meditate Andreas Petrides ringing discovered in meditation: the twisted gift of your trepidation. stripped of the noise of your conscious drive, you squirm in the silence where others thrive. like Pandora’s box your mind unhinges, with the force from the demons at its fringes, which greedily dance when given the space, unwinding the forces you can’t erase. in stunning patterns these thoughts expand, and untangle to innocent impulse strands, which exposed to subconscious’ loving light, die peacefully, bringing your mind’s eye’s night.

Twisted Bicycle | Delfina McNaught-Davis


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Speech on silent Aidan Meyer-Golden grit teeth and sing over songs meant to be wordless. open eyes are closed by thick lids, though i see what i must, a fog dizzies. fill palms with the water of a prayer and let it through the fingers. the wordless self screams quietly in an attempt to stop the overwrite. oh, listen most when nothing is heard, for the flowers stretch towards daylight from a lightless throne: me myself i are masks of worms which are neither sad nor exalted but digging.

Santa Maria del Fiore | Rowena Lindsay


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Reflections | Jared Hirschfield

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Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine: Spring 2018  

A student-run publication at Northeastern University, Boston, MA.

Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine: Spring 2018  

A student-run publication at Northeastern University, Boston, MA.