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

Poetry Editors: Eric Alter, Gia Dupree, Thomas Fucaloro, and Laura Hetzel Prose Editors: Julie Bentsen and Nani Ferreira-Mathews Art Editors: Laura Hetzel and Julia Simoniello

NYSAI.ORG FACEBOOK.COM/NYSAI

PRINTED ON THE ISLE OF STATEN DESIGNED BY JENNA SNYDER COPYRIGHT: All rights revert to the author upon publication. Cover image by Claudio Parentela 3

Copyright Š 2016 NYSAI Press

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editor’s note Dear Readers,

Everyday your brain translates your perceptions of the world around you into thought. You collect data and bring it into yourself—etching it onto your brain matter. The world you observe physically changes you everyday. Furthermore, with your uniquely translated human experience, you create a grand narrative of your life. There are climaxes and falls. You even sometimes write endings—but most of all you post it on social media where it becomes condensed, immortalized, and promptly forgotten. In this digital age, your narrative, your idea of yourself, needs an audience to exist. One may wonder: in a world like this, why do we still print magazines?

Perhaps we are naïve. Perhaps we are dumb. Perhaps we are hopelessly romantic. Whatever the case, we would like to believe that we print magazines because there are other naïve romantics out there whose narratives can take place outside the screen. We invite you to peer into our Periscope where we take small breaks from forgetting digitized mass-produced epitaphs and find ourselves somewhere else for a little while. Jenna Snyder

thank you

NYSAI Press extends its deepest gratitude towards its editorial board, whose selfless efforts make this publication possible, to Richmond Hood Co. for facilitating our slam series; and to you, the reader.

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contents

poetry

Jessica Brant / Lunch Break..............................................................................................................12 Ryan Buynak / Tell Me About the Day...........................................................................................14 Andrew Jordie / Kathleen..................................................................................................................16 Craig Kite / June 2015 Apocalypse.................................................................................................48 Wheeler Light / Periscope Invert....................................................................................................9 Jenny Pisani / Our Other Life............................................................................................................7 Linette Reeman / Different Massacres.........................................................................................22 Magie Serpica / He Said, She Said...................................................................................................37 Brian Sheffield / Dear God................................................................................................................45 Felino Soriano / D r u m s..................................................................................................................25 Amy Leigh Wicks / Poetry..................................................................................................................30

prose

Brian Alan Ellis / Haircut 100..........................................................................................................19 Joseph Pentangelo / High Roller.....................................................................................................39 Rebecca Strobel / The Iliad...............................................................................................................34

art

Olga Alexander........................................................................................................................................36 Francesca DeBiaso................................................................................................................................44 Emily Doerner.........................................................................................................................................10 Claire Durand-Gasselin......................................................................................................................33 Michele Rave Grassani........................................................................................................................49 Briana Griffin...........................................................................................................................................18 Jingmei Han..............................................................................................................................................15 Minkyung Kang.......................................................................................................................................26-27 Ken Iacoviello..........................................................................................................................................8 Craig Kite....................................................................................................................................................35 Nicie Mok....................................................................................................................................................29 Claudio Parentela..................................................................................................................................Cover, 24, 28, 32, 38 Emily Peters.............................................................................................................................................13 Minju Sun...................................................................................................................................................11 Keri Sheheen............................................................................................................................................47 Julia Volonts..............................................................................................................................................42, 43

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Our Other Life Jenny Pisani

I know I’ve loved you before in other lifetimes, with other names, and other faces. I know this, like I knew how the inside of your mouth tastes.

I know this like I knew how it felt for my soul to wrap around yours when my legs held your body like they ran a marathon and finally found the finish line.

I know I loved you before, by how much I wish I could love you again. Or, how I wish the laws of time and space could bend just once for us and take me to a place where maybe we were a little less fucked up, where maybe it all would have worked, where maybe your ring never left my finger and I didn’t have to leave you.

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Kenneth Iacoviello

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Periscope Invert Wheeler Light

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I’ve

found

a

proper

wild

TV

show

to

gone on

terrible runs

in

ending being

place to

to

Kansas

socialize with

store the

myself dog

dolphin scientists

alone dolphins here

now

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Emily Doerner

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Minju Sun, right


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Lunch Break Jessica Brant Logs in.

Scroll Scroll Scroll Bullshit Scroll Scroll Scroll Bullshit Scroll Cat meme Scroll Scroll Stops. Scrolls back up Thug life cat video Scroll Scroll Bitter at the world Scroll Scroll Jealous of friends Scroll Scroll Scroll Scroll Scroll Engaged Scroll Scroll Scroll It’s complicated Scroll Scroll

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Scroll Single and depressed Going through a divorce Scroll Shameless promotion Scroll Shameless promotion Scroll Scroll Gofundme Scroll Gofundme Scroll Pointless rant Scroll ‘Murica Scroll Scroll Awkward family photo Scroll Scroll New whip Scroll Scroll Scrolls back up New tits Scroll Scroll Scroll Takes bite of sandwich. Logs out.


Emily Peters

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Tell Me About the Day Ryan Buynak

Only a man with a poet’s pen can tell you what he loves the most. Banging the wife of the owner of the local comic book store, yet scared to death of a dentist’s daughter; that’s how this place has me. It’s too damn hot down here, stifles the creativity, makes people drink too much, forces fake love like air conditioner.

However, Autumn is here, I can’t feel it, but I can smell it, like dying soup, like the bad decisions I’ve made twice last night and once this morning. The dentist’s daughter is called Liv, how appropriate, she is a cashier, but she doesn’t ever know I exist, so I settle for graphic risk behind the library. I could probably be patient, but we don’t have a lot of time, death is at all of our garage doors, and there is nowhere else to park.

So I stay busy, because busy is good, because all my friends are turning green and gold at the same time, and I am wondering how long can this last?

Let it out, let ride, tell me about the day, tell me about the night, even at this age it’s okay to try things until you it right. But for the poet, my dear, madness is a virtue.

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Jingmei Han

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Kathleen

Andrew Jordie Her mind had her twirling in circles Attempting to catch her socks Like a dog chasing its tail She preferred to chase The Holy Spirit And managed to catch God A long time ago

So tightly He enraptured Her brain And crucified her consciousness

Serving the Lord in a broken down church She bowed on hands and knees To any and all His demands

God was so close to her She may have confused Him with others Who claimed to be the next coming of Christ Down on her hands and knees she went “What if God was one of us?” she sings In hospital gown

“When the Saints come marching in” she waits For forgiveness But her screams make it evident That white lab coats don’t have Angel wings The Devil’s hand can force us to see To do things we can never reverse No matter how hard we pray

“The Devil went down to Georgia, he was looking for a soul to steal” She replies, injected with medicinal sin Soul so far removed, it no longer stands a chance To be the object of theft

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Denied triggers such a scriptures to read She counts psych ward tiles in threes The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit

“This is what suicide looks like” she warns “God has left me a long time ago” Buried beneath papers and prescriptions On a public health desk Her stigmata grows silent.

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Briana Griffin


HAIRCUT 100 Brian Alan Ellis

1. Look in the bathroom mirror. 2. Spend 30 seconds contemplating your handsomeness. 3. Spend 5 minutes contemplating the opposite. 4. It’s okay. 5.Nobody’s watching except maybe your cat. 6. Instead of regulation barber shears, use the kind of scissors people (little kids, most likely) cut shapes out of construction paper with. 7. Trust me. 8. Don’t. 9. Spend 10-15 minutes contemplating the gray patches you didn’t have the last time you cut your own hair. 10. Damn. 11. Think about dying. 12. Stick your head under the running faucet. 13. Pretend you’re drowning. 14. Think about your significant other coming home to find you passed out with your head beneath the running faucet. 15. Think about them trying to resuscitate you. 16. Think about the tears of joy once you’re finally resuscitated. 17. Think about the feelings of love and redemption. 18. Think about how long those feelings will last. 19. Contemplate hope. 20. Better not. 21. Inspect your bald spot. 22. Better not. 23. Inspect your greasy, thinning hair. 24. Better not. 25. Run your hand violently through your greasy, thinning hair. 26. Cut the strands of hair that don’t immediately fall back down. 27. Repeat steps 25 and 26. 28. Ignore step 11, even though it’s an ongoing step that persists within you. 29. Don’t worry about cutting random chunks out of your hair. 30. It’ll grow back. 31. You don’t leave the apartment too often anyway. 32. Also, hats were invented. 33. Think about the time you gave yourself a swoopy, sideways mullet because you thought it made you look edgy. 34. Think about the time a barber stopped you on the street to contemplate your swoopy, sideways mullet, then handed you his business card. 35. Repeat steps 12-18. 36. Inspect the job you’ve done. 37. Know that it is the best job you can do under the circumstances of having greasy, thinning hair.

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38.Realize that a swoopy, sideways mullet is 100% out of the question. 39.Mourn the swoopy, sideways mullet from your youth. 40.Mourn everything else related to your youth. 41.Even all the bad stuff. 42.Mostly all the bad stuff. 43.Think about how Mom used to cut your hair. 44.Remember the time you wanted hair like Vanilla Ice, and you begged Mom to shave lines into the sides of your head, convincing her that it was at least a better look than the rattail you had the year before. 45.Then think about the old man down the street who cut your hair after Mom got sick. 46.Try remembering his name. 47.It was Vinny. 48.Think about how he had one glass eye. 49.Think about how nervous that made you feel. 50.Think about the rusty comb and scissors he used, how they pricked your skin and left rashes. 51.Think about his stained wife-beater. 52.Think about his gold crucifix, which rapped your nose in a pendulum-like manner. 53.Think about how he smelled of Peppermint Schnapps even though you were too young at the time to know what Peppermint Schnapps smelled like but would eventually find out when you got older and would drink Peppermint Schnapps while wearing a stained wife-beater (a cruel cycle of life). 54. You are only kidding about the Peppermint Schnapps. 55. Who even drinks that swill? 56. Kidding about the wife-beater, too. 57. Think about his 500-pound wife with diabetes. 58. Try remembering her name. 59. It was Olivia. 60. Remember she had a great head of hair, and a great laugh. 61. Italians have the best hair. 62. Italians don’t always have the best laughs, but Olivia had a great one. 63. Think she had swollen ankles and would only wear Mumu-style house dresses decorated in paw prints, sometimes with flowers. 64. Too depressing. 65. Go back to thinking about her great head of hair. 66. Go back to the great laugh. 67. What a laugh! 68. What hair! 69. Wonder who was responsible for maintaining that great hair. 70. Was it Vinny with the glass eye? 71. No goddamn way. 72. Oh, what the hell: 73. Think about dying. 74. But remember: Mom got better.

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75. Your haircuts also got better. 76. For a while. 77. And Vinny and Olivia, they both died peacefully. 78. In their sleep. 79. Just not at the same time. 80. Wonder which of their kids got the rusty comb and scissors (a reminder of scratched, irritated flesh). 81. Wonder which of their kids got the gold crucifix, the stained wife-beater. 82. Wonder which of them got the glass eye, if it was even up for grabs. 83. Look at your own eyes in the mirror. 84. Pretend they are glass. 85. Use a razor to shave any excess neck hair. 86. Or leave it to gross out your significant other, whichever. 87. Clean up after yourself so your significant other doesn’t think any less of you. 88. Or leave it if you’re willing to find a new home to live in, whichever. 89. Use toilet paper to wipe down the bathroom sink. 90. Who cares? 91. Certainly not you. 92. Okay, fine. 93. Pretend to care. 94. Just a little. 95. It’s unhealthy to care too much. 96. Think about it. 97. Notice some strands of hair that have fallen to the floor beneath the sink. 98. Consider leaving them, but remember steps 87-88. 99. It’s up to you now to make a decision. 100. Just remember to call Mom.

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Different Massacres Linette Reeman

my college history class assigns a primary source with the word “transvestite” in the title. after a semester of genocides, this seems easy. my classmates assume that massacres involve entire generations, that singular bodies cannot die more than once, but my father disagrees. having learned “blood” as a synonym for “boy” outside of his primary school in England, he knows how war can live inside a person’s body long past the truce. the Holocaust taught him the fear of small spaces all Jewish children now grow up knowing the smell of, so i inherited a want of leaving, of breaking out of the box i was told my body was born to fit in. what i mean is, if i was alive during the Holocaust, Hitler would’ve had a hard time deciding which massacre i should wear— gold star or pink triangle? even now, my father remembers the wolves that pulled apart his childhood and sees me wearing my queerness as a synonym for me planting a flag in my own death. when i pull on both a bra and boxers, i learn “boy” as a synonym for “blood” the way my insides shred themselves prayer over another month of me trying to name my body for what it is, or, my friends’ identities flirting with invalidation. sometimes it looks like a dance, but right now it looks like a fight— when i tell my father that i am no longer female, he pictures the blood we both share

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beaten out of my body and smeared across the sidewalk, envisions me as a butterfly breaking out of a cocoon made entirely of pink triangles—

so when my classmates dismiss our new book as not worth the effort, i die again. stand up. mention the outdated terminology, how the theatres of this war lie in each person who dares to speak its name, how every time i do, the audience makes a massacre of my privacy, butchers my pronouns, lets my name bleed out. my classmates do not question the book again.

in it, a Spanish woman cross dresses her way out of a covenant, takes plant supplements to reduce the size of her breasts, introduces her gender to the conquest for the New World, then spends the rest of her life holding a sword in her teeth. i want to know how she opened the massacre of her body to an audience of mouths. how she hid all the blood.

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Drums

Felino Soriano music to/in

the birthing of a favorite partition (partitioned experiences, detailed— a gift :: drum kit with

persuasion particular composing breeding . . . ongoing interest—)

bluegraywhite marbled flesh

, an invitation to position my body to rhythm sans

the exact knowing how to calculate atop an eventual fluidity of innate interpretation—

cymbals, —their spattering, my favorite articulation of echo within the whisper-blue of my bedroom’s walls and the combination of learn and my arms of winged intention

assembling elation

blur-function

determination to incorporate introverted permanent desire to

flail within

confirmed deliberation

-Claudio Parentela, left 25

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Minkyung Kang

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Nicie Mok Claudio Parentela, left 29

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Poetry

Amy Leigh Wicks We found a crappy café to sit in before The next seminar. I promised my friend (Who is not really my friend) that I would be Her plus-one two months ago, before I knew It meant three twelve hour days, because I thought Maybe it would be good to branch out and I still owed her for cat sitting for my sister’s tabby. We’ve been listening to lectures on child slavery, Trade contracts, and global warming Since eight this morning, and it’s now five. How are you enjoying it so far? I tell her, I’m feeling overwhelmed, but it’s good, But yea, I’m kind of maxed out at this point.

I wonder if this makes me a less sensitive human. I think, maybe I’m so selfish I’d rather be home Filling out my overdue tax forms and having A nice cup of coffee beside me in my yellow mug. She says, yea, I totally get it. This is really a lot to take in. And I think, Wow. What a not so terrible friend. And I nod. Okay, she says a minute later, So what do you think about poetry?

At first I don’t say anything because it’s not really A question is it? Also, she’s never expressed Interest in poetry before. So I feel defensive. Cornered. Almost like if we were at a party And I was being charming and clever and then She turned to me in front of the group and said, So what are your thoughts on God? Although I can see how that might be different, And honestly, easier to respond to. But I’m tired, And you know, I start to feel flattered

She’s asking me about poetry and she looks Genuinely interested. I let my heart race a little. I sip my burnt milk latte and I think what the hell And I say—You know, I have been thinking 30


About that question for a few years now. It’s probably The last attempt at building a tower to heaven With language. And somehow it is also the first Clumsy manifestation of an emotional response To pain. It’s overlooked and over-praised, and often Underdeveloped and overvalued for strange reasons, Or underappreciated for even stranger reasons. It starts as a net of the subconscious, full of gleaming Fish of thought (yes, I said gleaming fish of thought)

And in with the still flopping catch is the plastic ringThing for holding a six pack together, and that garbage Is sincerity, and the seaweed tied to the ropes of the net? That’s gotta go too, because it’s overwrought alliteration And superfluous details meant to“garnish” the poem. And a poem doesn’t need a sprig of parsley Stuck into an orange slice that’s been curled. I’m really liking where this is going And thinking maybe I should write this down Somewhere, and I can see her nodding and wanting To respond, but I’m not done so I keep talking,

It’s other things too, I say, slightly self-conscious now That the words have slowed to a trickle. It’s-- I begin to say, But she nods and says, wow, yea, totally. And then she giggles a little, and I feel bad for her, like She must be nervous, or sad, or completely out touch. Something is off. It’s just, she says, And I say, what? And she says, nothing. And I say, what? And she says, It’s just, I asked you, what do you think about poverty.

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Claudio Parentela


Claire Durand-Gasselin

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The Iliad

Rebecca Strobel

It was late afternoon on the first full day of summer and, though she didn’t know it, there was to be a full moon that night. She walked quickly because she knew that this might be the afternoon she would lose her virginity to the boy who would later go to university in the South and be recruited for professional football before never speaking to her again. The ice cream truck was outstripped by a passing stroller and everyone in the neighborhood sat on their respective front steps, their identical red doors open as if the factory that had fabricated them had also secretly fitted them with timers to thrust them wide open in sync as an hilarious joke on anyone who wanted to shut her door against the dead summer air. On the way to his house, she was stopped by the overweight boy who pined for her with every fibre of his keloid-scarred, dread-locked being. He wanted to know why she and he couldn’t hang out later, Please c’mon please, and she told him that she had to rush to the library because they only had one copy of The Iliad left and she needed to read it before starting college in the fall. Even if the dreaded friend knew the truth, he would not have been able to accuse her of lying; swords and struggles and adventures on the high sea can be read on skin and heard through whispers and felt as the stretching of an insignificantly significant membrane causes a brief reverberation in the microverse. One can alternatively experience at these same exploits on mildewed pages translated from the Greek. Though she did not look up at it on her walk home, the moon lit her path just the same.

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Craig Kite

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Olga Alexander

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He Said, She Said Magie Serpica

“Because you’re a cunt”, he said He spat in my face, he did Because “don’t drink” I said My sense of self worth, he rid Because it’s the only thing he can exploit, he said He used my past against me, he did Because “Don’t touch me” I said My illusions of safety, he rid Because I was in a constant state of panic, he said He told me I was crazy, he did “Because I now have bruises on me”, I said My desire to be around people he rid Because I had suspicions, he said He used his phone as a weapon, he did “That really fucking hurt” I said And my ability to trust, he rid “You have a face that people want to hit”, he said Including himself, because he did “Now I’m calling the cops”, I said And like a little bitch, he ran and hid.

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High Roller (An American Pilgrim’s Progress) Joseph Pentangelo

Even when we moved into the new house, our tradition of marking my height in the doorframe continued, although I’d been an unwavering five feet nil for two years running.

For a spell, I was a betting man with little grasp of gambling. Being able to afford great losses, and looking terrifically impressive with my illogically huge bets, granted me company and affection that I don’t think I’d’ve ever gotten otherwise.

One of my first memories is from a laundromat. Near the front door were some metal benches to sit on while you waited for the machines to finish, and caddy cornered nearby was an assortment of coin-op machines. My mother gave me fifty cents to get a sticker from one of them. The front of the machine was littered with images of robots, and I was going through a bit of a sci-fi kick, so this was, to my 7-year-old mind, proof of a God—our washing machine breaks down, and mom forces me to come with her across town, but, grace of graces, I get a shining android sticker out of the deal. I mean, what would you have thought? I put in my money, pulled out the cardboard folder that the machine half-spit out, and opened it to find a man splayed out in a pose suggestive of leaping against an oncoming train. He was wearing a shimmering outfit, a loose shirt and trunks. I was enthralled by his long limbs, his glittering head, and his skin tone, a deep umber, so unlike my own. I didn’t know anything about basketball; I thought that Michael Jordan was a superhero.

Thanks to some wise investments, my parents had become wealthy when I was ten, and, thanks to some unwise entanglements, they died when I was seventeen. I still have a lot of money—it’s not presumptuous for me to say it’s probably more than you’ll ever have—but I had more of it in my twenties.

-Claudio Parentela, left 39

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I stayed home from the board meeting. When Dr. Guttsman’s commercial aired in the middle of the Steve Wilkos show, I knew that my head-cold was sent by divine mandate.

The roll-out paper crinkled, sandwiched between my bare back and the pleather operating chaise. An in-office procedure; I’d be home in just a few hours. It was a simple process: first, they’d take a sampling of my stem cells, then they’d use them to 3D print a portion of bone. They’d break my fibulae in half, insert the printed bone-piece, sew me up, and send me on my way, a foot and a half taller. Years previously, the procedure was hugely expensive and took painful months to complete, with a telescopic metal rod increasing your height by only millimeters per day. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials yourself; it’s even cheaper now than it was when I went. As I returned to a dim version of consciousness, I thought I was looking into a funhouse mirror. My knees were two-thirds of the way down my legs, looking like extensions of my ankles. And my skin was pulled horribly taught, covered with hastily-printed sheets of half-ready skin-cells. “I’ll sue you!” I shouted. “I’ll have your license revoked!” Adding insult to injury, it only brought me to 5’8”. Ten phantom inches of disappointment floated above my head. My newish legs were hard to maneuver. A month after the surgery, I was at the bank, and got fouled up in the queue’s velvet roping. Sprawled out on my back, I didn’t have the energy to rise. “This is going to be such a lawsuit!” I shouted as tellers and customers engaged in an impromptu round of Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. Paralyzed from the waist down, I would have to spend every day sitting in a wheelchair, shorter than ever before. Luckily, my cousin, Damien, worked at a garage. I asked him about using some sort of a reinforced steel structure, maybe some-thing hydraulic, to elevate my chair. I envisioned myself seated atop an Eiffel Tower with tank treads. He told me about my options; I could have the wheels proportionately gigantic, like two penny farthings riding side by side, or I could relinquish the ability to roll them by hand (the chair being too high for me to reach down to touch them), opting instead for an electrical system. Being a man of progress, I chose the latter. There was a joystick on the right armrest that I could use to move myself around. On the other was a modified stenographer’s keyboard that you type with using only one hand; letters are chorded, almost like with a piano. Damien packed the chair with features; each of the letters that I could make had a different effect. Some were uninteresting: B, for instance, engaged the brakes. Others were great fun. H, my favorite, was for hydraulics. In pressing that one, my chair would elevate one inch per second for as long as I held it down. I could be as tall as my chair’s crisscrossing accordion apparatus would allow. It felt just like playing an arcade game, except with myself as both the player and the protagonist. I left the garage with my head six feet high. That night, I was so overjoyed that I slept right in the chair. I didn’t take any meal, and I didn’t bathe. All I did was rolled around my house, looking at everything from my new perspective. Shadows looked especially different. Life was good for the four months I spent at this height; I was a few inches above where I was when I first got my leg-extension surgery, and most people had to look up a bit to make eye contact. It did wonders for my self esteem. I joined a gym, did a lot of weight lifting, and even showered with the other guys. The chair was rust-proof; Damien was a wiz. All of the confidence that I had been missing seemed to be there. Except for one thing. 40


Ever since I was a little kid, my hair was one of my biggest weaknesses; it was curly and prone to knotting. A white shock marked my cranium’s north-western hemisphere; my classmates used to call me bird-shit head. One night, the spirit of self-confidence took me over. Before long, my bathroom floor was littered with clumps of my just-snipped head-hair. I felt and looked good, especially after rubbing my dome with vaseline. And, just to keep the high going, I hit the H chord again. Just a couple of inches taller, but my whole point of view changed. I rolled around my bedroom, spending hours examining my surroundings, and struck the chord just one last time. How strange it was to see the dust-collecting tops of door-cresting moldings! Exhausted with joy, I fell asleep in my chair, just like on that first magical night. After a deep, dreamless slumber, I awoke to a dull cramp in my gut and a stupid fear of peeing myself. My paralysis didn’t grant me incontinence; it didn’t remove any sensation from below the waist whatsoever, actually. I just couldn’t move my legs or feet. I realized that I hadn’t urinated in over fifteen hours, and felt like I was going to burst. I rolled towards the en suite, and found that I had elevated myself too high to fit through its doorway. I tried ducking, but the chair’s back was still too tall, and I was worried that if I just forced my way forward, I’d throw the whole thing off balance and crash eight feet straight down. I tried the chord for L, thinking of “lower,” but that just clicked my lights off—stupid—so I turned them back on. Then I tried S, for “shorter.” For some reason, this made the chair start turning around clockwise; I disengaged that one, and repositioned myself with the joystick. Running through everything that I tried would be boring and pointless. It is enough to say that I tried every letter and nothing worked. I discovered Damien’s sole oversight. My only option, aside from soiling myself and starving to death, was to climb down the steel structure that held me aloft. As I started this process, made all the more infuriating by the pain in my bladder, I felt my dangling feet getting stuck in the criss-crossing tower. The only way to resolve this was to swing myself side to side, so that, even if they hit into a trap-shaped bunch of metal, the momentum would prevent them from really becoming ensnared. Since I had feeling in my feet, though, this was extremely painful, so I started to rush downward. It’s a strange, inhuman sensation, hearing your body thud and snap. As it turned out, I became a pile on the floor, my left knee bending backwards below me, and my left arm being partially skinned as it got pinched at the intersection of two of the chair’s beams. Ironically, I couldn’t feel the excruciating pain, because my neck had cracked on the chair’s tower, leaving me without feeling or function below the collarbone.

In exchange for dropping my suit against the surgeon, who didn’t have much money, anyway, Guttsman’s lawyer brother worked for me pro bono. I got a lot out of that bank, whose negligence, I argued, ultimately turned me into a self-controlled ventriloquist’s dummy.

Nowadays, I live here in the penthouse suite, commanding a generous view of the town and the mountains that surround it. I’m probably lucky to be alive—if my neck had hit much harder, or in a different way, I’d have been decapitated. Damien bought me this voice-activated computer, and I guess it was the least he could do. But I’m not bitter. This is the tallest building in the county, and it sits atop the highest mountain this side of the Mississippi.

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Julia Volonts

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Julia Volonts

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Francesca DeBiaso

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Dear God

Brian Sheffield

Dear God, I am a queer white man living in a heteronormative, white supremacist patriarchy; still, I am privileged even under the poverty line and I sin and commit crimes every day yet I have never watched the world behind a set of iron bars Dear God, Right here, in America, children die die die die die die die of starvation and I was given a car for free Dear God, I stopped watching television because spectacle began trickling down my back like an electrical current attached to my spine, plus, I can’t really afford cable anymore, so there’s that Dear God, Ellen DeGeneres is a beautiful lesbian but she still insists a reality of cancer can be made better with a basket of free gifts to the audience of her talk show Dear God, There are a hundred lines here that will never make sense Dear God, I love to masturbate and will never apologize for it Dear God, You are sick for watching me jack-off Dear God I am literate literate literate and I know how to speak but small talk with the bank teller still baffles and infuriates me Dear God, I thought I was intelligent until I ate a handful of mushrooms Dear God, I thought I was saved until I ingested a mouthful of vile acid Dear God, Every building is an erect cock that penetrates the promiscuous sky and I swear that I’ve heard them all whisper “slut” Dear God, The walls of my house have plenty of room for poetry Dear God, A part of me is still communist and I am not sorry Dear God, My dad’s favorite president was Richard Nixon, and his law hung from his back like a stone slab burden as he told me to stare at the wall, repeating “I am a liar” until I broke into tears Dear God, Francisco slurred to me in broken English between shattered sobs that he was newly homeless in Brooklyn in time for New York’s heavy winter, sleeping under Williamsburg’s ice, contented with death, stinking of forties and single shot containers of vodka

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Dear God, Out here, Job curses your name and then freezes and dies Dear God, There is no saved city in winter, No saved city in summer’s smog There is no saved city in my California with only 12 months of water left and I selfishly despair for my loneliness in satiated New York, never thirsty and never sleeping Dear God, The Spaniards painted your son white Dear God, Michelangelo also painted you white inside his brain as you reached a desperate hand for man’s lazy finger Dear God, You’re meant to be mysterious yet you look like me Dear God, They say you are love without mentioning the Crusades against the Pagans which was really a crusade against Islam or our Crusades against Islam which is really a crusade for oil Dear God, You are the master who left his dog three days without food or water Dear God, I am an angry poet drowning in a community of other angry poets, And while I can’t speak for them, I can definitely speak for myself Dear God, I have never really been an atheist, but I believe even more now that if you do exist, then you must have turned your back on us. So now, I turn my back on you. N O G O D S / /

NO MASTERS

Keri Sheheen, right 46


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June 2015 Apocalypse Craig Kite

National Public Radio Now mirrors my innermost ego: An onslaught of ugly.

All the stage is a first world Where we can watch mass shootings unfurl. Mr. President is angry in my ear buds. Commander-in-chief complaining again About what you won’t let your country do for you. But this is our Deathbed And we can laugh if we want to. It’s actually my birthday. I’m gonna party like it’s apocalypse! Rent law lapse: That’s a Nice present! Working class can’t work Homeless. Culture is experiencing a nervous breakdown... Culture is experiencing a nervous breakdown... America Online is a collective conscience... America Online has been sold for 4.4 billion. It’s having a panic attack And sizzling. Input positive relationships... Input positive relationships.... Input positive relationships, the screen is cracked! Input using our words. Input using... better words: I-can’t -go-to-school-because-my-neighborhood-hurts. Input more relationships in general. Input longer conversations. Input higher standards for what constitutes information. Input personality, Export exorcism... Export all the contentious comments left here on this comment, Paperclip them to an ACTUAL page and burn it as a prayer... Export the obscured face of the Duchess in the corner Of each frame. Export the dark rooms in my psyche. Export souls. Export shaky fingers for 10 ways of dying alone:

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1. Pretend you don’t see color. 2. How ‘bout seeing sunsets in black-and-white every night? 3. Have black coffee and egg whites every morning. 4. Dream black and white- Yea, think diametrically. 5. Let me be lonely. 6. Let me be shy. 7. Talk more than you listen-


8. Read less than you write. 9. Stare at your new neighbors without saying Hi. 10. Look but do not touch. Touch me... Touch me hard. The sky is definitely falling...

Michele Rave Grassani

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Periscope  

Winter 2016 edition of NYSAI Press' literary magazine

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