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Editorial Board Editor-in-Chief: Jenna Snyder Managing Editor: Thomas Fucaloro

Poetry Editors: Enas Elmohands Thomas Fucaloro, Laura Hetzel, and Gabriella Iacono Prose Editor: Julie Bentsen Art Editor: Laura Hetzel

NYSAI.ORG FACEBOOK.COM/NYSAI

PRINTED ON THE ISLE OF STATEN DESIGNED BY JENNA SNYDER COPYRIGHT: All rights revert to the author upon publication.

Copyright © 2018 NYSAI Press

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Cover art by Keiko Nabila Yamazaki Front Inside Cover by Sandy Coomer NYSAI ads by Rachel Lyngholm

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contents

poetry

Ryan Buynak / Hawk Kill Crow............................................................................................................36 Troy Cunio / Bellsong / I Skipped Work...........................................................................................26, 40 JoAnn DeLuna / What To Wear To Your Laser Scar Removal Appointment . . . ..............10 Mariana Goycoechea / Alabama Avenue / Universe..................................................................9, 33 David Lawton/ My Mabuse....................................................................................................................27 Simon Perchik / *.......................................................................................................................................41 Quera / Skin...................................................................................................................................................17

prose

Noel T. Jones / Feel, Memory..................................................................................................................20 Gabriella Shlyakh / Mustard Frames................................................................................................28

art

Sandy Coomer..............................................................................................................................................Inside Cover, 31 Saneun Hwang.............................................................................................................................................14-16, 39 Maliha Jeba....................................................................................................................................................22-25 Quera................................................................................................................................................................19 Rachel Therres............................................................................................................................................34-35 Keiko Nabila Yamazaki...........................................................................................................................Cover Susan Yung.....................................................................................................................................................8, 32

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editor’s note Dear Readers,

Jenna Snyder P.S.

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Susan Yung

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Alabama Avenue Mariana Goycoechea

Let em watch you whip watch you nae nae watch that joy black babies and no it doesn’t matter where you from si boricua si *moreno* si dique Black American si domicano Guyanese Trini Jamaican Grenadian because black is enough

Flick that loud joy Leave this train running saying This my stop and don’t stop the laughing until you get home.

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What To Wear To Your Laser Scar Removal Appointment To Make The Signs Of Assault On Your Face Less Visible JoAnn DeLuna

1. Classic blacks and greys are always best. Even if you’re typically a colorful person, stick to darks. In winter, forgo your favorite bright red and blue coat. Instead, opt for the black one with the hood. Last thing you want is to draw attention, have strangers stare that dreaded, well-known look of concern and pity when they see your bandaged face. That look should be reserved for special occasions. 2. Apply light make-up. You’ll only cry it all off later. Light grey eye shadow works best. Eye liner is fine. Mascara, a definite no. 3. Part your long curly hair on the right. So it tumbles on your face to the left, thereby masking the scar. 4. Sunglasses are a must.

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Even if you look ridiculous wearing them indoors. They radiate a certain je ne sais quoi, an I-most-certainly-do-not-want-to-be-fucked-with-at-this-time essence. Sunglasses will make you feel invisible. Even though you’re not. But really wish you were. If people still dare speak, do not fret; sunglasses double as pseudo ear plugs. Keep walking, they’ll assume you didn’t hear if you didn’t see. 5. Bandages accessorized with sunglasses will make people assume you got a nose job, because you’re a superficial, image-obsessed, self-conscious, narcissist —go with it! It’s better than the truth: You’re a weak, fragile, shell of scarred skin, a crumbling pile of broken bones, desperately trying to hold it all together. 6. Create a plan for the period immediately following the surgery —beforehand. This pre-established plan will transition you into autopilot après-surgery when you become too distraught to function, and performing simple tasks like, looking for keys or, determining whether to go left or right for the subway, can seem like impossible tasks. Plan ahead!

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7. Allow men to think you haven’t been in long-term relationships, because you’re afraid of commitment. It’s easier than the truth: You were assaulted. And feel like damaged goods. And can’t imagine a man wanting you, ever again. And the thought of admitting that out loud, to another human being, fills you with dread. And makes you incredibly sad. So, you carry and save this special secret, for the right man. But none seem worthy. And the few who did, left far too soon, mistaking discretion for disinterest.

8. Look good. Even if you don’t feel good. People will be more empathetic when you ugly-cry at inappropriate times and inconvenient places. Or snap at them. For example: a.) The street. b.) The subway or bus, on the way to the laser scar removal appointment. c.) In the doctor’s office, when the receptionist returns your incomplete medical forms, as going to the doctor is now a trigger and you become too disoriented and too hysterical to focus on completing them.

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And you shout at her: “I DON’T REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR WHO REFERRED ME! JUST PRETEND NO ONE REFERRED ME AND LEAVE IT BLANK, THEN!” And you shakily slip on your sunglasses in the waiting room to hide the torrent tears, before they move you to the other waiting room, away from the other patients. And it takes everything inside you not to run, and just forget the whole damned thing. d.) While ordering tea at the counter of your favorite café and the anesthesia begins to wear off and you increasingly become aware of your swollen, throbbing, aching face. e.) At Target, following the cafe, following the surgery, because you’re determined to live your life. And, do normal things. And, not let this horrific thing stop you. But quickly realize being in public right now was a complete and utter mistake. And you should’ve just gone home. And surrendered to the world. But, not before impulse buying a bright, shiny, gold puffer coat, because —fuck it. People are staring, anyway. Blind them with your golden light rays.

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Saneun Hwang 14


Saneun Hwang 15

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Saneun Hwang

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Skin

Quera Fifth grade was my spring of love. It was the boldest I’d ever been, Unafraid to profess my truth to all my crushes. But for some of them, It was always the same deal. “I’m sorry Tony, but, I like your cousin.”

Now, Im not gunna lie, Those words usually stung, But it wasn’t the rejection that hit me, Or the fact that I lived here first. (Cuz lets face it, he wouldn’t be going to this school if it weren’t for me) But it’s when I’d ask them why, The blanquitas always seem to say the same thing “Well...its because he’s black”

Oh, I didn’t realize they taught yah racial fetishism in elementary school, Yet here we are. Sitting on this cheese bus, While your white eyes devour him. Like yah were hungry For my cousin’s skin

The same skin that cant get him into a bar on Staten Island Without two forms of ID Shoutout Kettle Black, your wings aint shit anyway

The same skin that gets pulled over on late nights, and thrown into a cell On the charges of driving while being black. What goods a PBA card if you’re still gettin frisked? The same skin that makes them hold your ID while you eat Cuz you look like one of those scammers Even though it aint OUR fault yah got zoed. That same skin that gets picked up by the ops Stripped & left for dead in the marshes Just for throwing eggs.

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That same skin that makes you a thief Just for walkin into their store When you just wanted to get yah girl something nice

That same skin that gets jumped in the school playground By a bunch of white boys who hate you for that skin. The same skin that got called a troublemaker just for wanting to play on the fucking swings with me. So I’ma tell him your breath stinks like caca A nd it’s not because im jealous You chose him over me.

But I’ve been on this island long enough to know What yah daddy and brothers do To black and brown boys And I’ll be damned, If my cousin goes to your house for dinner.

---Quera, right

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Feel, Memory Noel T. Jones

Your hand is safe inside your Abuela’s from the Staten Island Ferry, the impossibly long subway ride, through barking dogs, rabid people, percussive dominos, plumes of chicken grease flying from East Harlem windows, until you sit with Nani at her kitchen table. The two women make sense of bouncing tongues with English words peppered in like adobo. You laugh when Abuela punctuates the end of a sentence with “Ma” in her New York accent. How can someone as old as Nani still be someone’s Ma? Don’t women become grandmas at a certain age? Nani plies you with cold boxes of apple juice and packs of saltines leftover from soup deliveries, and fawns over you in a Spanish you can’t understand. Incantations for good hair and a quick wit and a handsome smile, a good job and for kindness. Nani’s apartment is an island, like Puerto Rico, like Manhattan, like Staten Island. Abuela only ever relaxes at this kitchen table cluttered with a stained colador and a boveda of veladoras for Saint Jude. Nani gives you all the crunchy rice from the bottom of a pot that magically refills after each meal. Abuela has her pension from her city job, so the part-time work she takes altering clothes or cleaning homes or other forms of domestic labor are for soccer cleats, swimming lessons, or a tricycle for you. Nani’s kitchen has frying pan that is always like the Fourth of July, firecrackers of oil splattering, and jibaro and bomba music bounding from her radio with a compensatory vivacity she no longer possesses, and so you dance for her. Nani claps in time. “Baila, baila cómo el pingüino.”

Abuela and Nani say words like papa, mama, no, telefono, ningun until you sit at Nani’s feet like a cat and she scratches your scalp. Your unwed mother left you at the hospital not long after your birth and no one’s seen her since. Abuela and Nani raise the boy they both always wanted but never had. Your father, who’s Irish and also from an island, sends birthday cards until he doesn’t. Abuela and Nani preen over you your whole life. Titis come out of the woodwork and wrap you in clothes that make you look nice, but never cool. They’ll buy you books and puzzles and globes and tell you things about an education and keys. They’ll stop speaking Spanish around you and stop playing the magical music around you. They’ll tell you to pronounce your name with fewer syllables. With a subtle, strangulating move, under the guise of good intentions, they’ll suggest you spend time with kids from other neighborhoods, and that maybe cross country is better than soccer or basketball. There’ll be fists that have the word faggot packed behind them that will find your ribs. When you see the kids you used to know when you’re no longer kids they’ll call you maricone, and you’ll retreat to your books and will stick out on the construction sites where you work for a living and try to make yourself more of a man. Girls will ask you if you’re sure you want to go through with this, and you’ll nod and shake and sweat and they’ll try to coach and coax you when you can’t keep it up. They’ll giggle when you try to speak Spanish, but their laughter is kind and you learn to find refuge where you were socially taught to only visit with possessive violence.

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Somehow, you’ll manage to go to school in England, another island, and study the humanities and philosophy and celebrate the language of the Anglo-Saxons as your own heritage slips further away from you each day. A position as a professor will open up back in New York and a friend of a friend will put in a good word and you’ll meet a literature professor on campus, a man who is dark like the friends you used to keep, Dominican and proud, a man from yet another island, and you two will fall in love. He will poke fun at you for not being able to speak Spanish and you will tell him that tongues are meant for more than rolling Rs and he’ll ask you to show him what you mean. The family who stood by as you forsook medicine or law for the arts will join those who abandoned you once you announce your engagement—all except Abuela, who always said she worked for your happiness, not hers, although she will die before your wedding. For now, Abuela sits with a cigarette that smells so good in one hand, a fork playing with glistening plantanos in the other, working up the gumption to walk back to the subway to board the ferry and take a bus back to the bungalow the Sicilian grandfather, another dark man from another island, you never met, left her. “You be good boy,” Nani says when you leave. She brushes your face with her hand of crushed velvet. “Que dios te bendiga. You be good girl,” Nani tells Abuela when she leaves with you. When Nani died, Abuela left you at home with a babysitter, a teenage girl from the neighborhood. She saw you were anxious and let you stay up late. You sat on the couch with her and watched TV. She spidered long red fingernails along your neck. “Is that blood?” you asked. “Huh, sweetie?” she answered. “On your fingers.” “Oh, no. It’s nail polish. I paint it on.” “Oh.” Ding. Vanna White in a gown spun tiles from blanks to letters. “Where’d Abuela go?” you asked. “Oh. Honey, your great grandmother died,” the babysitter said with a respectful pause between each word. “Your grandma went to see her.” “Can I see Nani tomorrow?” “No, baby. You can’t see her ever again. Maybe in your dreams.” “Oh.” An audience applauded as someone revealed a hidden truth on TV.

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Maliha Jeba

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Maliha Jeba

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Maliha Jeba

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Bellsong Troy Cunio

I get excited when the phone beeps. It might be a meme from my roommate. It is my boss angry or the credit card company. I am finding reasons

to wait for another heartbeat. My friends are so kind.

It’s an early night, I am driving home past the Taco Bell sign blinking dark. At my job,

a friend told me he has watched this job chip away at my humanity. I feel more human that I did last month,

it was not the job that lessened me. It was hearing my closest repeat aloud what my own personal Alex Jones in the brain likes to shout. I have been sleeping through everything important. I missed Easter. I missed my roommate’s son eating breakfast.

He asked to come into my room today and I said yes. He threw a ball into my closet and went climbing in after it and I was staring at nothing. I text myself this. I get excited when the phone beeps.

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My Mabuse In the back of my mind Sense of which I’m aware Set apart from the world Rose light behind the veil In the midst of the black Body cold on a slab Stark somnambulant wraith Pupa lurks in the wall Some corruption remains Unconsciously brings shame Rasping, whispers your name Spectre pointing the blame Gaping eyes engulf you Low subliminal tone Power of suggestion Parrots maniac song Hands pulled behind the back Name scratched on window pane Doppelganger of dread Holds unlimited reign Mabuse. Possession The ghoul as obsession Cadaver’s recession Helps you learn your lesson Never look. Never look. Never look back.

David Lawton

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Mustard Frames Gabriella M. Shlyakh

I had a mosquito problem. So I decided to replant a spider by the door. With some potting soil, and a tiny lace doily for her web, I positioned the pot by a sunbeam from the kitchen window. After a couple days, the spider went to work on her new home, anchoring three points of thread to the small tomato stakes I’d left in the pot.

I couldn’t help but stay and watch.

Cradling the yellowed house phone in the crook of my shoulder, I dialed into work.

“I don’t understand, you’re having your house fumigated?” Lyle, the store manager, drawled on the phone. “Yeah, like I said, pest problem from downstairs. I’ve called the Super about it, but he hasn’t come back from Portland yet. It’s just for today. I’m going to let him in and he’ll spray.”

Only partially a lie--Super really was still in Portland, and the mosquitos had been his doing, after he’d left all the garbages pails out in the rain. Filled up with water, I couldn’t drag them over with my bad foot. “We could use your help tomorrow morning to prep for the holiday displays, these new kids don’t know where anything is.” I slapped my itching arm and found it coming away with blood, wishing the spider would just get to work already. Lyle had begun to list off duties for tomorrow, but my imagination wandered. I wondered if the spider would eat all of the bugs whole, or if she would cocoon them, sucking out their liquified innards.

A pretty fitting end to all the district bigwigs who did acrobatics to avoid paying us employees full time with benefits. I supposed that running the store for one day without me was punishment enough.

“Ok,” he finally sighed on the other end of the line, “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”

But I didn’t. I watched the sunsets of early Autumn gleam golden off the web, instead. I gaped at the pinks and soft purples that were woven in, like the faint dark of veins under skin. Every morning, the colors got even more subtle, somehow gentler.

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When I pulled at a piece of the web, I realized that it wasn’t just a trick of the light, the silk gleamed back like mother of pearl, throwing back whatever color it took in. I held the thread up to the light from the window, and it cast back a peachy red, from the inside of my fingers. It would make an incredible fabric, if spun correctly.


I looked back at the spider, poised over the tightrope wires of her outer web, already tidily going over the empty spot. After three days spent rooted to my chair watching her work, I wondered if this web could really be something big. Maybe I’d write to a magazine about my experience. The headline, which would be in bold, would say:

“Unwitting Engineer: How One Woman Turned Spider Silk Into Fashion.”

I got up and started to gather up bits of silk, hanging them gently over my arm. I stooped over and plucked off the strands I liked most, rolling them up with my fingers. Within a day, the strand was replaced with another, even more beautiful one. The spider gorged herself on our small mosquito invaders and her bottom half grew to twice its size. She sat and sun bathed during the day, and in the evenings she spun her incredible web.

I dozed off in the chair sometimes. You couldn’t help these things, being my age. When I did doze off, though, I always saw myself weaving silk. The kind I remember attached to tablets in the Ancient Orient exhibits I visited as a child. Strong silk, but one that would slide between the blades of shears like a whisper.

The buzz of the phone in my pocket woke me abruptly before the shears snapped shut. I took it out of my pocket and put it into the dark cave of the oven, where it could rattle around and make all the noise it wanted. Putting on another pot of coffee, I decided that I would make a jacket, like the one I had in the 80s, with lots of embroidery emblazoned over the back. I’d do that, too. I could teach myself how. All I’d have to do was make this thing spin a little faster.

On the sixth day, I woke up in my chair and found my prayers answered. Overnight, the web had become pregnant with a shiny ball of silk.

Clasping my hands to restrain my joy, I looked at the all the colors wrapped around the sides. My heart leapt, standing there, picturing the subtly changing color of the sleeves, the extra fabric at the waist--the plastic zipper I would attach.

From the corner of my eye, I could see the spider slink off into her hole between the door and the molding. She looked almost worn out from all the effort.

My cell buzzed in oven, it sounded like a bee caught in a soda can. I groaned, leaning down to open the oven door. It was my manager who’d sent another message.

Beth--This is the seventh time I’ve reached out after more than a week of no call, no show. We were holding onto you after the foot surgery because of your years at our company, but I can’t condone keeping you any longer after missing a week of shifts. Hope you are well. --Lyle

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I turned to stare out the window, daydreaming. I imagined myself pictured inside the mustard frames of a glossy issue of National Geographic. I’d wear my coat, and I’d have my arms crossed, back facing the camera. I’d want to get a good shot of the giant dragon painstakingly stitched into the back. NYSAI Press 29


They’d be so impressed with me, my story, that the magazine would make the offer right then and there. Imagine a woman at my age, being hired on the spot. They’d fly me all around the globe and I’d get exhausted and world-weary. I’d get that vogue look of complete ennui that all the folks that stared off the covers of People had. I’d memorized their faces well. Their faces slid past me on the conveyor belt at work. I practiced them in the mirror every night. On the eighth day, when parts of the web matched the color of the bags under my eyes, something happened. Lyle sent another message.

Beth-At your earliest convenience, please clear your lockers in the back. We’ve got two trainees coming in that we need to make room for. Hope you are ok. -- Lyle (PS: Hoping you’ll let us keep the coffee maker.) I was distracted checking my phone.

When I looked back, a black mass of tiny things cracked the beautiful ball of silk right down the middle. They swarmed out over the web and devoured their weak mother, and then the web. I screamed at them, batting at them with my broom. The screaming did no good, so I just started blubbering instead. I sunk to the ground, sobbing, the handle of the oven door pressing into the flesh of my back.

The web was a wreck, and I didn’t even have enough thread to make a pinky ring.

It wouldn’t help to kill the babies. I’d have to be proactive.

I sat down in the chair with the broom on my lap, and I waited for the first web.

All the hours of dreaming, a complete waste. I’d never imagine something like it ever again. By the time I’d grabbed the bug spray, they were all gone. Taking a breath, I stopped myself from spraying down every nook and cranny of the kitchen. I’d learn to teach them, and then I’d train their babies, too. I’d have all of them at it, hundreds of them. It would be hard work, I know, but I could make them work.

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Sandy Coomer

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Susan Yung

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Universe

Mariana Goycoechea Sending old a bean bag love never thighs open palms clasped velas lit 90s radio Cardi SZA dapper dapper my hood and so I keep a Tower to nowhere that is I’m a I’m a And I bedroom from a room than Virginia I spread again to myself top of And my

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nudes on begging for to be received suicidal wrists too before altars spliff too wavy vibes I do I look fine on fire is my bóveda building of Babylon but one still mine sucia bitch puta hoe own this head to toe more my own ever fathomed my thighs giving birth at the the Tower God is

The view beautiful.

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Rachel Therres

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Rachel Therres

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Hawk Kill Crow Ryan Buynak

Poetry chose me. I didn’t choose it. I was lost in a fog of youth and weed smoke in Orlando, Florida, when kismet kicked me in the dick.

I hated reading and writing as a kid, but I loved figuring out song lyrics, and piecing together what they meant.

I have always known I wanted to do something creative, but I didn’t know what that meant. I always drew cartoons and doodles, and I liked painting when I could afford material. I always liked telling stories, and being funny, but I never thought of writing anything down.

Something just clicked when I was 17, my senior year of high school. I started writing little, weird stories, but not in any form, just short breaks that resembled lyrics more than anything else. I would go places, like a park, and sometimes the airport, and just sit and jot down observations and fictions.

I didn’t think much about it, just kept a secret file on my Hewlett-Packard, and one day I showed my friend Justin. I was nervous, because I didn’t know what it was. He looked at me and said, this is poetry, dude. I shrugged, but I kept doing it.

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In college, I took a creative writing class and had a remarkable professor, who just encouraged us to write and be creative.

I also took a storytelling class, in which the only requirement was to tell an engaging story each class. I wrote long form stories, and started a novel, but everything kept coming back to short tales, mirroring my friends and our nutty adventures waiting tables or chasing girls. When I moved to New York City, I decided that I was a poet. I wrote every damn day.

One day, I was at a bar called Swig, which isn’t there any more, and I was writing in a notebook and drinking a beer, when a man sat at the bar a few stools over from me. He asked what I was writing, and with a confidence like never before, I said, I am writing poetry. He got a real kick out of this, and asked if he could read some. I said yes and slid my notebook down to him, taking a drink from my beer.

This stranger read in silence and complimented the work, simply, nothing over the top. Then he asked if I read anywhere around town. I said no and he perked up, saying I had to go read at this place called The Cornelia Street Cafe, saying he goes all the time. He recited a poem to me right then and there. If I remember correctly, it was called Hawk Kill Crow, or I misheard him, but it was about following your dream even if you are unsure of it just yet, at least that is what I think it was about. Then he left without even ordering anything. 37

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So the next week I went, and checked it out. It was in the basement of a restaurant, with low ceilings and candles on tables, what I imagined old jazz clubs or speakeasies to be. That first time I didn’t read and I didn’t see the man from the bar, but the week after that, I read, and loved it. For years, I read poetry at Cornelia, making a name, publishing my first book, feeling the scene, meeting friends, doing drugs in the bathroom, being a wayward poet, but a real artist, and I never saw that man from the bar again. I asked around, describing him, and no one knew or heard of him.

I wish I could thank him, because along with a few others, he really kicked me in the direction of my life’s work.

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Saneun Hwang

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I Skipped Work Tonight Troy Cunio

here’s a thought- filtering the water back through the grounds, clean again, back to the pipes & the spring. drying the grounds in the sun, glueing them carefully together to beans again, uncooking them in an unroaster, sending them green back to Yirgachefe.

planting them in the mountains, on the flowers, letting them shrink into the ground, going back to sleep.

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*

Simon Perchik And though the stars came by what you hear stays wet for your hands on the rope

waiting till it’s dark –you hang the wash at night, sure the clothes will dry –by morning you’ll fill the tub again with her dress and stir till the water turns black smells from sleeves

and the same shoulders that were always there with grass that you add later.

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thank you

NYSAI Press extends its deepest gratitude to its editorial board whose selfless efforts make this publication possible, to Richmond Hood Co. for facilitating our slam series; and to you, the reader. This publication is made possible (in part) by a DCA Premier Grant from Staten Island Arts, with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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2018 catalog

Where the Knife Landed

Twenty Five

This is a Sign!

Dynasty Forever

by John Snyder

by Nicie Mok

by Maggie Buford

Increase Your Male Power! by Nicie Mok

by ZoĂŤ Tirado

To purchase a copy, visit nysai.org/publications

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Profile for NYSAI Press

I'm Sorry  

Summer 2018 Edition of NYSAI Press' literary magazine

I'm Sorry  

Summer 2018 Edition of NYSAI Press' literary magazine