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REFLECTIONS Newton South’s Arts & Literary Magazine

2012


Reflections Newton South’s Art & Literary Magazine

Spring 2012

Editors-In-Chief Jonah Reider & Cecilia MacArthur Editors Max Simon Aaron Wolff Aaron Davidoff Ko Takasugi-Czernowin

Serena Allegro Allegra Borak Jonah Cochin Dana Cohen-Kaplan Christopher Connell Frances Cooke Hannah Dober Emma Gomez-Rivas Allie Haber Hannah Leikin Nicky Leiter Mira Li

Staff

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Josh Harlow Clara Lorant Sophie MacArthur Elie McAfee Hannah Nahar Shiri Pagliuso Nathan Reider Eleanor Richard Celina Siegle Julia Smith Emma Spector Julia Spector


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TABLE OF ARTISTS cover 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 -14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32-33 34 35 36 37 38-42 43

| adam macalister | ben korsh | ari ebstein | aaron davidoff, lindsey walters | lizzie odvarka | tim jiang | aaron wolff | allegra borak, stephanie li | adam macalister | ari ebstein | max simon | michelle tian | cameron walsh, jasper barbash-taylor | frances cooke, clara lorant | alex skrynnyk | eleanor richard | ben korsh | helen holmes, max simon | anonymous | clara lorant | isabel carter, michal lieberman | lauren ashbrook, michaela regehr | isabel carter | hannah nahar, lindsey walters | cecilia macarthur | nicole kestenberg | john stricker | chloe thompson | adam macalister, olivia kennis | tricia ho | victor qin, lizzie odvarka | sylvie evans | rose taylor | victor qin

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44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53-61 62

| adam macalister | michal lieberman | eleanor richard | cecilia macarthur | sophia canning | lizzie odvarka, max simon | allegra borak | ethan wehrwein | clara lorant | hannah weller | adam macalister

THANK YOU™ to those in our community who have supported the magazine this year

Lincoln Street Coffee Mr. Sid Karma Tibetan Art and Gifts Betsy Jenney Inna’s Kitchen Folklorica Leatherworld Helso Full Service Hair Salon #1 Noodle House

Special thanks to Natalie Taube, our faculty advisor; Lincoln Street Coffee for hosting our annual Coffeehouse; Brian Baron, Hyojin Kim and Bob Bouchal for their continued assistance in procuring art and writing; PressCo for printing the magazine; and anyone who has contributed to or appreciated the vibrant artistic and creative community at Newton South High School.

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Ben Korsh 4


newton south’s reflections art & literary magazine

An iPhone Ari Ebstein an iPhone is a mePhone an Android births itself in the hand of every owner like a tumor in our pockets like a malware spreading virus – even the metaphors are digitized. my English teacher calls smart phones “beautiful distractions from our imminent demise.” It is not Demise I fear so much as stagnation a perverse order in a Paralyzed State. Demise rebirths itself in Revolution but the only revolutions left for me are those of the spinning rainbow pinwheels, on my laptop screen. I hear ‘60s students whisper in my ear Subvert the Dominant Paradigm / Subvert the Dominant Paradigm / Subvert the Dominant Paradigm/ – I wonder if they too fought a force too large for themselves and so retreated into communes. are there any Communes left that exist outside the Network? Let’s all tonight have a Revolution on twitter by not signing on.

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House Wonder

Neon

Aaron Davidoff

Aaron Davidoff

Hide in the garden Peek through the leaves And oh. Wade in the water Squeeze mud through your toes And

She has neon (Sprouting from her head) And it culminates In the withering of her soul.

A house wonder, a house wonder. Run up the steps with Your brother behind And oh. Sit on the swinging, set Back of the yard And A house wonder, a house wonder.

Lindsey Walters 6


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Lizzie Odvarka 7


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Tim Jiang 8


newton south’s art & literary magazine

Three Boys on a Summit Aaron Wolff Three boys on a summit There’s something about summer There isn’t always tomorrow Through wide-open fields and mazes of corn We abandoned our compass Under a curtain of forest Oh My God; Christopher Columbus You are the man. The sun was thick, like honey In my calming morning Tea of blue sky And it was the kind of déjà vu You’ve seen before in Dreaming. Then the air yields for you so You want to scream to the whole wired world: There. A long time ago I should’ve kissed your bright-eyed tiger-grin There. That would’ve been Sappy and sweet. And feet into the river My backpack broke But I fixed it And we heard baseball And almost stole some beers We could’ve bought a saw to build another swing but I wanted to hitchhike back In a four by four That would’ve made me want to say There.

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reverse Allegra Borak you hacked up my backyard. rooted up the tree house with a casual “en garde.” and you can peel an orange too, without a second thought. peeling does what feeling can’t to phantom limbs forgot. and in a canyon dwelling (I’ve turned you into rock) you will bear the native hieroglyphs, but I will hold the chalk.

Stephanie Li 10


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Adam Macalister 11


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Candles On the Midnight Mirror Ari Ebstein The art of creation Originates at the act of perception. What I write is what’s been noticed Not by me But by someone. Each soul is like a candle Drifting calmly along a river, And it is night time. Will the glow defeat the dark? It is the question of our passing Through our passes on the surface. The water is clear But swift. And no one is sure What lurks underneath If anything at all. Is it, Like Freud thought, our shadow’s Roar. Or is it a ceaseless String of ones and zeroes. Is the soul a soul? Am I living In the day time. The sun is stuck At noon, like a task-master. The alarm clock of each second. Is the monster in the blue current The void of a monstrosity? Terror hiding as its own absence. Maybe The river is black. And we are not glowing But on fire. Did man precede fire? Or fire Man. When does one thing become Another in this water? The waves Ebb like poetry Through the history of its creation, Which is now. Back to fire: Which couldn’t have always existed. Existence necessitates its creation, Its word. What did the first man or woman see When the spark hit the tinder And an accident became a vector Of humanity. Pushing it onwards

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To escalating degrees of height and hell. The mind burns. Is fire Elemental to man? And does that mean It came before. Or did man and fire simply coincide. A concurrent cross-section In time’s tide. And are we not spies? Peeking In the night at what is not ours, Though we presume it so. Do we ride on a midnight mirror? Not water—merely its Reflection. The light sprung off the shifting crests and splashes Dances, is intelligible, though blurry. The river is not serene But violent. Rapids thrashing Steadfast candles. Its strength Knocks some over, dousing flames. But no wick is brighter than any other. Some are just Still burning. The life Flickers, Glints and is extinguished. The tune of the river Hums along. The infinite spectrum of sound Radiating from off the water is Bluish noise. Jazzlike. Somewhere Miles Davis tooted in these sounds waves. How odd the melody was, Fresh with perception, Honey-like and dense. A particular sweetness— Candy for the temporal lobe. Or fulfillment for some ancient need. Oh, everything Is worldplay, after all. The phrase precedes the Meaning. The art follows after The act. And is arbitrary and alliterative. Some things just sound better Than others. And it can’t Be explained. Maybe some things Hover slightly higher above The surface of the water. And this is God To a wax stick figure: a word, like god— Like will. Or humanity. Or empathy.

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What does it boil down to, the river? What is its Precipitate. Is it distilled And has no essence. Does it evaporate In the fire’s stare? Like rain Under sun on summer courts. I remember How the basketball smacked the concrete. Something transcendent there was In the arc of that orange sphere, holy. Did sport precede love? As wax precedes Flame. Love is a cross-section of light Somewhere between red and Orange. Back to the basketball: It did not float above everything But through it. In passes. An organism larger than itself. Needing water To grease its machinations. Ones, Twos, Threes, Fours, Fives Sweaty tribes at battles Numbers and shadows, The shadows of numbers Crunching with everything step On top of the black asphalt. Teams, rivals, and Individuals—yup. All of life was present As is present on the river. Which glides on to the sunset Reflected on its surface. Candles shine in the midnight mirror. The nighttime river is lit Of words and fire.

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Max Simon 15


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Michelle Tian 16


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The Great Battle [winner of the freshman sonnet contest] Cameron Walsh The battle rages over all the land. The arrows travel across burning skies. Screams of triumph sound, victory’s at hand. The tortured cries of battle ring out high. The Elves will celebrate in lofty joy, while Cave Dwarves muster, and attack once more. The victors try a final, desperate ploy, but ultimately fall to Dwarven swords. The field is stained with lakes of blood and fear. The losers kneel. Knowing their fighting’s done, they break their bows. Surrendering in tears, they kneel to the dark, malevolent ones. On that bloodied plain where two armies crossed the Elven freedom was forever lost.

Jasper Barbash-Taylor 17


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I Do Not Wish [winner of the freshman sonnet contest] Frances Cooke I do not wish to walk along the Earth Or find myself submerged beneath the sea. I’ve wished to have a bird’s eye view since birth And sleep where only clouds are meant to be. A checkerboard of fields and ant-sized towns— I count the stars above and then below And lakes that wear the dewy hills like crowns Reflect the lights that breathe and wink, aglow. Upon my perch I see first green then red, But down below no person seems to care. The seasons pass and and they stare straight ahead I solely notice magic hap’ning there. I do not wish to walk along the ground. By peering down, my world could be refound.

Clara Lorant 18


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Alex Skrynnyk 19


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It’s Still Mine When you pulled away in that cliché pick-up truck you might not have noticed that wedged under the backseat, wrapped in a greasy one use only, throw-away napkin lay my dignity. Could you possibly bring it back?

A Memo from Management If you shoot for the stars you won’t even make it to the moon. The atmospheric pressure will crush you into a fine dust that some fabricated god will snort hoping for a good time. You should probably just sit back down in your cubicle and stop dreaming about what could be possible. Oh, and I need those numbers in by 5.

Where Have You Been? It’s bad enough that you waltz through my dreams so often you might has well have your name in the opening credits. But every time the door slams I’m sure you’ll rumba in with that pack of smokes and a brilliant excuse. I’m sure I’ll forgive you.

poems by Eleanor Richard

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Ben Korsh 21


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Twister Helen Holmes stuck together for a second like that awful song on the radio but the lyrics don’t mention sweat, ‘round a clambered wrist and perhaps it isn’t worth it but who says perhaps anyway? wide mouths with a whim to prove “quick talk” come to this. so flicker like that silver clasp dead center in the street (which at first I thought was a quarter) not let down: a twist

Max Simon 22


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Asteroid Anonymous I’m shivering, shaking; my arms are pale And the hairs are stretching out, out Searching for something to comfort them And although I’m hurtling through space 100,000 miles per hour I swear it’s not the breeze that Accumulates--I think it’s the darkness, With its wet, weightless touch Blacker than the space inside My throat, forming as my lips part Involuntarily, blown back by The force of speed. It’s quiet out here. I shout until my tongue dries And still no sound leaks out Of the corners of my mouth, Gathering at the edge of my lips To slide horizontally across my cheek To reach my ear To let me know about the Unrelenting drummer that keeps Striking that soft, elastic skin. Of course I’m not lonely It’s just my eyelashes, That flap incessantly Against my pupils That’s why I hit the earth Already crying.

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Clara Lorant 24


newton south’s art & literary magazine

TWIST Isabel Carter The Tree was not particularly tall. It had few flowers to speak of and fewer buds. Grey in color, gnarly, stoic in the face of the world surrounding it. It grew relentlessly, twisting around a fallen metal Pole that had landed on it as it grew. The intersection was quiet but held a silent chaos of colliding worlds. The Pole refused Demeter’s perennial touch, only ever conceding an occasional spot of rust that would peel off and drift to the ground, creating the loudest silence as it touched down. In response, the Tree simply continued. It stretched out its leaves to the sun and slowly crept into the open air. Centuries from now, the Pole rusted to oblivion, the spiral trunk will be heavy, full of birds undeterred by so unnatural a bend.

Michal Lieberman 25


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Lauren Ashbrook

Michaela Regehr 26


newton south’s art & literary magazine

To Dare Isabel Carter To walk a rope I shouldn’t dare; its height being much too high. One never knows how one will fare. To tame a lion I don’t much care. Hold! Say I, it’s dangerous to try; to walk a rope I shouldn’t dare, and skydiving I could not bear. No falling through the sky, not I. One never knows how one will fare. Once a fright gave me such a scare as sent me out the door to hide— I won’t walk the rope; I don’t dare. Still of danger I’ve had my fair share, but I have a healthy fear to die; one never does know how one will fare. But to die without living is what I truly fear, and though one day I hope that I know what it is to truly try, to walk a rope I shouldn’t dare for one never knows how one will fare.

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Untitled Air Hannah Nahar This morning I went to the woods to pick words, put them in my basket, hoped They wouldn’t fly away. Then I went home and ate some diamond rings for breakfast because I like to sparkle. Once I was so small I touched the clouds. I used to wish I had wings but I got them And I wanted to give them back.

Lindsey Walters 28


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Cecilia MacArthur 29


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Nicole Kestenberg 30


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John Stricker 31


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Sleepers Chloe Thompson Emerson said he’d go to the hospital by himself. After all, he’d been about a million times before, shunted back and forth on the trains, with his worried mother, father, sisters. And Dad had work; Susana had dance, which meant that Mom had to take Susana to dance; Emily had another science fair; and Uncle Al had another round of chemo, so they couldn’t just let him go alone. And Emerson had said that he’d be fine to go to the hospital to sit with Uncle Al. But now Emerson Melton, so named for his mother’s favorite poet, was beginning to have his doubts. After all, what in the hell were they going to talk about? The train swung back and forth with its usual frenetic energy. The motion always seemed sudden and quietly violent to Emerson; the metal cages jerking back and forth over their electrified rails, the squeaking groans as the train hurtled along. Almost like the roller coaster at Coney Island; much gentler than that, but the train had the same rickety, hurtling bumps, just softer. Uncle Al had puked - had said he wouldn’t, too, “Meltons don’t puke” -- or “I’ve never hurled in my life” -- or something? Aunt Ingrid had rolled her eyes, but she’d been laughing. Her legs were long and olive-toned against her shorts. She and Al split three, four years ago, and no one had heard from her since; Emerson wondered where she’d ended up, and if she still smiled when she was actually pissed; if she still painted or drew or whatever it was she did; if she’d quit dating alcoholic guys after Uncle Al. A kid across the train was playing with a yellow yo-yo. Instead of up and down, he swung it back and forth, faster and faster, until it was just a shining yellow blur suspended below his fist. (Emily would be able to explain the physics of that, he knew, but all Emerson could remember from his tenth-grade physics class was mass times acceleration equaled force - or something like that.) The kid’s little face stretched into a gleeful smile, and he twisted to show his trick to the woman who sat next to him. She nodded with a tired smile, like this was the thirteenth thousandth time the kid had shown her the yo-yo trick and expected her to be impressed. “Momma,” the boy squawked, too loudly

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for the oppressive silence of public transportation, “Momma, look.” He tried to whip the yo-yo into a circle, and ended up smacking himself in the face; he dropped the yo-yo with a wail. It rolled across the floor to land at Emerson’s feet. A woman sequestered at a metal pole beside them roll her eyes; but a man standing behind her smiled. It was weird, Emerson thought to himself; the way silence hung heavily in the air on trains. He’d never really noticed it before, because he usually had his headphones stuffed into his ears, but he’d forgotten to charge his Ipod and now it sat in the bottom of his pocket, still and silent with its cracked plastic casing. Was it always like this? The silence like a living thing, thick and awkward in the air. Even the mother’s attempt at soothing the kid barely punctured it; her words just slid down underneath the heavy quiet, which was masked by the groaning hum of the train as it slid into another stop. The woman by the pole eyed the still-sobbing boy disdainfully, and then left the train. The yo-yo was still next to Emerson’s foot; the bright yellow plastic made his scuffed sneakers look old and worn-out. Emerson bent over and trapped it between his fingers. He’d loved yo-yos as a kid; he had thrown sleepers, Around-the-Worlds, Throw-Downs with the best of them. (Uncle Al had been the one to teach him; had spent hours and hours with him perfecting that first trick; the sleeper.) He tried a sleeper now; holding it his palm, then whipping it towards the ground, feeling the little jerk as it hit the end of the string and hung there and spun, then yanking it back up - or, trying to. The yo-yo spun aimlessly, hanging at the end of string. The kid had noticed he had the yo-yo now; he tore over with tears still on his face, pointed at the toy, and said “That’s mine!” “The string’s too loose,” Emerson told him. “Hold on a sec.” He held the yo-yo out and let it dangle at the end of the string, and then slowly spun it clockwise. The kid watched, wide-eyed, and when Emerson held the yo-yo out to him, he looked suddenly shy. “I’ve got a green one at home,” he said. “You can have it,” and then scuttled back to his mother before Emerson could say anything. “Uh, thanks,” he called lamely. He tried the sleeper again. Maybe he’d show Uncle Al when he got to the hospital.

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Adam Macalister

Olivia Kennis 34


newton south’s art & literary magazine

Tricia Ho 35


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Victor Qin

Lizzie Odvarka 36


newton south’s art & literary magazine

Sylvie Evans 37


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Plugged in and Spaced Out Ramblings from the Twenty-First Century [honorable mention in heintzelman creative writing contest] Rose Taylor

Sub-subtitle whatever doesn’t fit in plain old english-english prose-prose goes in here. and then the gaps and the vague and the weird make the almost-thought a thought. just like the way that Elmer’s glue and a darning needle make a heartbroken a heart. (they don’t.)

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the Internet may be good for something, but I haven’t figured out what hey computer, can you just show me something beautiful? maybe that’ll make me go Whoa but Maybe that’ll make me feel ihope. I don’t think they’ll ever make the apple iHope. Afternoon (Inspired by Dorothy Parker’s Résumé) Facebook shames you; TV’s bland; Knitting strains you; Scrapbooks are just sad. Cleaning’s a project; Yoga hurts; Origami’s too exotic; You might as well work. Still Life Here is a bowl. Painted in triangles green and gold. Fingers of instant oatmeal climb the sides, congealed. Here is a desk. Or: here isn’t a desk. Or: here is a desk, invisible under papers and books and Post-Its in neon with reminders long-forgotten for tasks still incomplete. Here is a bed. Covered in blankets too itchy and pillows too fluffy and babies too Beanie. Rumpled with nighttime tossings too short. Here is a girl. Not clearing the Post-Its or scrubbing the oatmeal bowl or making the bed. Just reading and breathing and here.

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Getting Over A Cold Today, I swallowed my voice. It went haCK—cOUgh and slid back up my throat and down and up again before sputtering away, leaving only a squeak/whisper/rasp and my brain screamed: “heyRosewait! Voice can’t abandon us we have too many things left to say!” and I was about to tell her that we had to start thinking like normal people instead of talking to each other like crazies when she added: “you never even got to use discombobulate in a sentence. or axolotl or quintessence.” only then my not-brain realized that yes, words are fun. and yes, talking is great. but if I talk so much and listen so little that entire thoughts live or die on what words come next then probably voice-swallowing is exactly right then probably I should listen then even more probably I should experiment with silence. plain silence. but then the squeak/whisper/rasp gave a couGH-HAck and a de-sputtering and a de-sliding and an up-jumping and my voice came back.

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newton south’s art & literary magazine

A Thought Did you know that there are people inside every moving car? I mean of course there are drivers inside or else we would all be dead but like, people going places Not just headlights and horns and jerks that cut you off, but people going to meetings and hospitals and schools and sitcom-plot places like a meeting at a hospital that’s also a school and the boss is running late so the telegenic nurses all have to abandon their hilarious feud and work together or else! and playgrounds and haircuts and funerals and hardware stores and just exactly where you’re going. people with stories every moving car. Have to/Want to It doesn’t count if it’s easy Anything. The point that it’s 110% good better best no sleep no food no friends no carbs 11 days a week ‘til 2:30 in the morning The point is that it’s hard. so to count you must do things that are hard always. But then how can you tell if you love them or if you love afterwards thinking I did those things always? then how can you tell if it matters if you love them or if it matters that you did those things always? then how can you tell if you care about them or if you care that somebodyanybody will say Wow she did those things always? You can’t.

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Both In math the teacher points out a unique value of y but my pen writes down a unique value of why and that makes me think about beauty and how it’s the intersection of left and right grammar and Shakespeare on purpose and accidentally like synesthesia, as lived by Jimi Hendrix but also as described by Dr. V.S. Ramachandran who said (couched with caveats both scientific and humble) that all metaphor is synesthesia because believing that Juliet equals the sun kindness equals milk flesh equals dew is the same as believing that turquoise equals calm sour equals five e sharp equals Roger or y equals why which is exactly right —and left

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Victor Qin 43


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Adam Macalister 44


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Michal Lieberman 45


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Eleanor Richard 46


newton south’s art & literary magazine

Cecilia MacArthur 47


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Sophia Canning 48


newton south’s art & literary magazine

Lizzie Odvarka

Max Simon 49


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Swan Song Allegra Borak I never got to be the swan. Paint me in a sallow hue The fabric of my face is gone. I know the waltz of breath and spine— Give me a chance! I’ll make my debut! I never got to be the swan! Red morning skies proved more benign Than evenings blotted by your moon. The fabric of a day is gone. And now, to me, your name, a land mine, And mine, to you, a vacant town to pass through. (I never got to be the swan.) Quick! Kick the constellation to make it shine! Plug in the pas de deux! Close the blinds or we might be embarrassed by the dawn. I saw your design with each incline But each time you with drew. I thought I saw two artful shapes—two swans. But the fabric of them, too, is gone.

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Ethan Wehrwein 51


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Clara Lorant 52


newton south’s art & literary magazine

Deserted Hannah Weller It was a howling hollow in his belly, an emptiness that inhaled, but he had acid in his lungs to dissolve everything he let in before it reached his heart. Isaac was hungry, but he didn’t want food. “Are you listening?” Val asked him. “Isaac. Jesus. This is exactly what I’m talking about!” “What?” He stretched his feet out underneath the table, pushed them hard against the grass. He kept his eyes on a couple of middle schoolers, hurling a frisbee back and forth in the field. The wood table scraped against his elbows. Her face twisted into a sour little knot. “Seriously. Are you okay?” “Yeah. I’m okay. I’m awesome. Why wouldn’t I be okay?” he said. The wind was unwinding her curls into frizz, even back at the corner of the park, blocked in by buildings. It was funny how that frizz robbed her entire face of severity. When your friend looked at you with serious black eyes and a cloud of dirty hair, she was just a kid. Val sighed. She reached her hand out and touched his wrist, gentle, though the pads of her fingers were icy. “I dunno,” she said, “You’ve seemed...different, I guess?” He shrugged. “Different how?” Val drew her hand away from his wrist to stare at him. She gave him one of those looks, with frowning eyebrows, big eyes, and lines around her mouth, “I don’t know. Never mind.” Isaac gave her his best attempt at a worried smile, wrapped his hands around his elbows then fixed his eyes on her forehead. She smiled back at him just as worried -- more worried, he guessed, because she meant it -and gnawed the inside of her cheek. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I know, it’s just, I’ve been under a lot of stress lately.” Then, “I’m distracted, I guess.” Then, “And really tired. I’m really tired.” He wondered if the lie sounded as obvious as it felt. But Val just nodded at him, turned her head to look at the kids throwing a frisbee, her hair a dirty childish cloud. She beat a rhythm onto the table with her fingers. “Yeah, I know that feeling,” she laughed.

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“Cool,” he said. “Good, yeah. I’m not -- I’m fine, I am, Valerie. I’m okay. Stuff gets to everyone, right? I’ll be fine in a few days.” “I know,” she said. “You’re always fine. I mean literally always; I’m kinda relieved you’re human.” He laughed to get the sad nervous flutters out (like stretching your heart muscles; laughing was heart exercise for when your heart beat too fast) and she added, “I just wish you’d talk to me a little more. Tell me what’s going on.” “If something important happens, I’ll tell you, Val,” he said. For all he knew he meant it. Nothing happened to Isaac because he wouldn’t let it. What did it matter, he figured, making a promise you wouldn’t ever have to keep? Valerie smiled at him, ran a hand through her hair and fingered the zipper on her backpack. “...shit,” she said after a long silence, “I have to go.” “Want me to walk you to your car?” Isaac said. It seemed like the right thing to offer. “Nah,” she said, “I think I got this.” Smiled. What a happy kid. She had all these rules about everything. Like that you had to tell people you were sad when you were sad, and if you didn’t feel anything at all, you had to make something up. Isaac wondered if those helped her stay happy. “See you Monday?” he asked. “Yeah, yeah,” she said. “Yeah. I’ll see you Monday. And just...email me or text or something, okay? If you do ever wanna talk. I’m here. I’ll listen.” She zipped her backpack up tight and slung it over her shoulder. “See you, Isaac.” ----He took the long way home, the really awful one through the goddamn park instead of around it on the bus like a normal person. The way that meant walking through maybe a solid mile and a half of park, woods with paths, then woods without paths if you knew your way around, which Isaac did. It wasn’t exactly high wilderness or anything, but it was lonely enough. He didn’t want to see anyone. People weren’t high on the list, not just then. He didn’t know what made him do it. The conversation with Val, maybe, or the howling. It was funny how having nothing inside you could make you do so much.

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But there was a -- of all things, of all the goddamn things, there was a kid there, right in the middle of the forest where there wasn’t supposed to be anybody. Well, not a kid, exactly. He was probably Isaac’s age. Maybe older or younger, not by a lot. He was wearing a dress shirt, and a tie, and some nice pressed navy slacks, and shiny combed hair slicked out of his face. He looked like the nicest guy in the world and Isaac couldn’t care less; now he just had to figure out a way of getting past this guy without making eye contact. Even if he went around the clearing, his ugly construction boots would rustle the leaves so bad. Like dragging a fork through a paper bag. He went for it anyways, though, just to see, just to try it. He took in a big breath, smelled dirt and tough dry leaves and hurried himself off, a few yards away from the slicked private school boy, hoping to high heaven that their eyes didn’t meet. “Whoa, where you going so fast?” the boy said. Shit. Isaac stopped and looked down at his boots, inch deep in dead leaves with flecks of dirt because he walked too hard, wonderingif he could’ve avoided this by walking like a normal person with smiles and nods. Half a mile into a stupid fake forest surrounded by highways and he got pulled into small talk. “Nowhere,” Isaac said, stuffing his hands into his sweatshirt pockets, “Just heading home; that’s all.” “Home must be a nice place if you wanna get there so fast.” Isaac shrugged. “It’s Friday,” he said. “Yeah, exactly,” he said, “It’s Friday. Take your time, man.” He waved a thick stick at Isaac, then tossed it onto a few others inside the stone pit with a solid thunk. “Smell the smells.” “Uh-huh.” Isaac gave him a little flit of a smile, which didn’t reach his eyes. His hand tightened on his bag; he turned and headed out. “Hey, wait, hold up,” the guy said. “I offend you or something? What’s with that look?” “What?” Isaac said. He swiveled his head. “What you got doing, so important you gotta be rude to perfect strangers?”

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“Nothing.” Nothing was important. Nothing making him be rude. Just didn’t feel like smiling, not so it reached his eyes; it was too far to reach. “So calm down. Take a seat, my friend,” he said, laughed. “I don’t feel like being alone today. I won’t get on your nerves. It’s just nobody ever comes this way.” “Don’t you want to be alone?” Isaac said. “No, not really,” he said, “Not today. Who wants to be alone, really? You hear all this shit about people feeling lonely all the time.” Isaac wanted to say I’m never lonely. But he wasn’t sure it was true. Lonely was different from empty. But lonely was -- wanting, wasn’t it, it was wanting not to be lonely. He took his hands out his pockets and shouldered off his backpack. He gave the private school boy a look like happy now? and the boy just grinned at him and mussed his smooth hair with an absent hand. “Yeah, see?” he said. “Wanna help me? Get some smaller twigs. Dry ones.” “Okay,” Isaac said. It seemed like a weird thing to make somebody do, but he did it. He bent down and plucked leaves away by their stems, flipped a dry stick into his hand, shook the dirt off another, thicker one missing some bark. He sighed through his nose because the sad angry lukewarm wiggling was back in his heart. And his lungs were howling. “You ever go camping, tiger?” the guy asked him. “What did you just call me?” Isaac said, straightening up. He handed a fistful of sticks to him; private school boy took them with a smile in his eyes and started to lay them carefully on top of the bigger sticks. “Called you tiger.” “Why?” he said. He crouched down and made sure his pants didn’t touch the forest floor. “‘Cause you’re blond,” he said. He fished a lighter, shiny silver and plain, out of his pocket. “You got any paper you don’t want any more?” “Tigers aren’t blond,” Isaac said. He pulled one of his school folders out of his backpack and grabbed a big old sheaf of history notes for his last test. Gross, uneven chicken scratch and smudged pen lines; the holes were

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ripped where he’d torn them out of his binder. “Yup,” he said. “Tigers aren’t blond. Figured you for a smart one. I’m John.” “Okay,” Isaac said. Whatever, he didn’t say. John took the notes from him, spread them out and crumpled them up, putting them on top of the small twigs on top of the big sticks. He kept one crumpled ball and flicked on the lighter. “You ever go camping?” he asked again. “I guess.” “You guess? What’s that mean?” “Gone camping, never done a camp fire,” Isaac said. “Not even at home never made a fire?” “I live in an apartment.” “Oh.” Awkward private school boy; never occurred to him some people didn’t have fireplaces. Isaac knew that was unfair, and he knew what Val would say, but he thought it anyways. John didn’t even look ashamed or anything, though. He just nodded and lit the crumpled page of notes so the fire started to lap gently at the paper. Little brown edges with orange rims that slowly dissolved up, up. He held it by the top, pinched between his fingers. The guy looked lost for a second. The fire reflected a shine off his eyes and gave his pupils white spots, and he just stared at the burning paper like he didn’t know what burning felt like. He blinked and threw it on the fire pit. The flame caught on another sheet of paper and then a twig, and sputtered and crackled like fires were supposed to, Isaac guessed. “I’ve never seen you around here before,” John said. “I don’t usually go home this way.” Isaac drew his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. “Oh,” he said, “Oh, cool. That would explain it.”

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“You’re often back here,” he said. It wasn’t a question. John shrugged. “Come here every few days, I guess, when shit gets rough. If I can.” “So this is yours?” He motioned to the fire pit, the clearing, the charred logs tossed in a pile he hadn’t noticed in his hurry to get away. “What, the campsite? Nah, nah, found it. Might be mine by squatter’s rights, though, seeing how long I’ve been coming.” John laughed. “But you start fires all the time. All the burnt wood, that’s you?” He laughed again, loud like a hacking donkey, big throaty noises that bounced off the trees. He put his hand on Isaac’s shoulder. “Jesus, you make me sound like a maniac. Starting fires all the time. I only do it in the fire pit, man. I know what I’m doing, I was a Boy Scout and everything. Very official.” That hand patted Isaac and made his skin prickle, and it wasn’t his fault, it wasn’t. He didn’t ask to be this way. “But this is -- all this is you.” He looked John in the eyes, then away; he wondered how awful it would be of him to shrug that friendly hand off his back. John nodded and gave a little mouth shrug. “Yeah. Yeah, it’s nice,” he said, “Very romantic, you know. Campfire in the lonely evergreens. It’s just super.” Isaac bristled. And he went through with it, he shifted his scapula, wondered if John could feel his goosebumps; the guy’s hand slid off real easy. “Fire’s not romantic,” he said. “There’s nothing romantic about it.” The wind blew harsh around his face and tears prickled his eyes, so he sat all the way down on his butt and covered his mouth with his hands to warm them up. John didn’t move, just laughed again and poked at the fire, which had just started to lick up the bigger sticks. “Who died and made you king of the thought police?” he asked. He scowled. “Police don’t have kings.” “Case ‘n point, tiger.” Isaac huffed, because nobody liked to be made fun of, especially not by a guy who’d just now decided he was your best friend or something. “What-

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ever,” he said. He was a kid, that was the kicker. Isaac was a stupid kid and he knew it. Nobody had ever sat down and taught him how to be a decent human being, because that was something you learned by watching, you learned by seeing what other people did. And he’d watched, but he couldn’t remember any of it. And what he could remember he didn’t have the energy for. Just a big howling empty place. And he was fine with it and he wasn’t supposed to be, that’s what Val said. Or -- not said, but she implied it; you’ll feel betterlike he wasn’t meant to feel this way. Maybe Isaac liked his empty place. It was a place he could curl up alone and hide and not have to smile back, because it hurt to smile with his eyes. Maybe he just didn’t know what it felt like. Being full up of real feelings instead of keening noises where emotions should be. Love and hate and jealousy, they sounded kind of glamorous to a guy tickled by irritation, a dominating oh well that seeped out of his heart and dripped from his lungs. Hollow inside sad little boy, getting mad at someone for being nice to him. Something was wrong with him. Something was wrong with Valerie. Both of them. “Jeez,” John’s voice rang dark and deep. It shook Isaac out of his thoughts like an alarm clock. “Did I say something wrong?” “What?” “You got all quiet,” he muttered. He pushed a log closer to the big part of the fire, drowned it into little lines of blue flame tickling the bottom of the stick. “Just thinking.” “About what?” “Nothing.” “Jesus,” John said, and tossed his stick on top of the fire. “No kidding. Figures I finally get some company and he’s just as crazy as I am.” “‘m not crazy,” he said. “You’re crazy.” “You’re going nowhere, got nothing to do. Don’t think about nothing,” John

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said. “Crazy. Crazy boy.” Isaac kicked a rock, which rolled into the pit and clacked against a big log on the bottom of the pile. Little red sparks floated up and drifted toward them, barely missing their faces, probably getting caught in their hair, fading into ash. They should have burnt hot but the wind canceled it out. “But I like you, tiger,” John said. “I like you. You’re a different sort of maniac. You don’t ask questions.” He leaned back, leaned back so far he just about fell onto the ground with his knees bent. “God. You have no idea how nice that is. People always think they can fix you.” His nice fancy private school tie was trailing in the dirty dry leaves. The navy blue stuck out against all that dead leeched brown. He stared up, at the sky, at the trees that stood stock still and ignored them, stared with glassy unseeing eyes. “Like askin’ questions fixes a person,” he mumbled. “Does sometimes,” Isaac said. “Sometimes doesn’t. Sometimes makes it worse,” he said. “I know,” he said. Isaac entertained the idea of a big old coincidence, just so happens they ran into the same problem, but no. Everyone had the same problems, essentially. At least around here. Except they didn’t because Valerie knew all about what people did when something was wrong. And she was -- she was...happy, Isaac guessed, or at least she seemed happy. She sure seemed to bounce back from sad things a lot faster. Maybe she was more grown up than he was. But then this private school kid, he came out to the abandoned part of the park and started camp fires for no reason, he invited strangers to come and sit with him for no real reason. And Isaac didn’t know his last name, or his age, or what the fuck was making him look up at the sky like he was crying without tears, but he felt better than he had in a long time. He reached his arm out straight and placed his hand on John’s forehead, which was dry and warm from the fire. “And you’re calling me a maniac,” he said. John laughed the kind of laugh that comes from sad fluttering anxiety in your heart, to stretch the awfulness, to get it out; his chest shook. “I am,

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ain’t I?” said private school John. “You’re insane. I’m insane. My heart hurts like somebody’s squeezin’ it from the inside. That make any sense?” “Yeah.” Isaac snorted. “...yeah.” “Nah, you don’t have to say it does,” he said. “I just said it. Dunno what it means.” “Okay,” he said. “Wanna hear something else?” “Sure.” “My life isn’t even a fucking disaster,” John said. “I’m a mess without a big speech to back it up.” Isaac stared down at his dress shirt, and his tie trailing on the ground, his glassy eyes. He flopped onto the ground, too, next to him. “Tell me about it,” he said. “I just did.” Isaac laughed like his throat had been buttered; it slid out without him meaning it to. “You did. You did.” “Hey, tiger, you don’t ask questions. You answer them?” “Guess so.” “You feel any better? You feel any better, doing this?” He made a wide gesture, could’ve been at the fire or them or the trees. Isaac blinked. “No,” he lied. “Good.” Laughter tripped up and fell into the fire. “Good. Me neither.”

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Reflections 2012 Musical Sampler reflectionsmagazine.bandcamp.com Over the Hedge Where Are You? Violet Sun April 11 Anarchy in the USA Block the Opening Fungus Face Bach: Suite No. 5 in c Beatrice (Take 2) Beethoven: “Les Adieux� Mother Colors

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