The Lavender Issue 12: Graduation

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Wesleyan University


The Lavender

Volume XII: Graduation

A literary magazine published in the spring of 2024 by undergraduate students at Wesleyan University

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Wesleyan University

Dedicated to the class of 2024. Congratulations, colleagues!


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Editorial Board:

Editors-in-chief: Imogen Shearmur, Ella Spitz, and Georgia Groome

Managing Editors: Samantha Hager, Alex Short, Jane Weitz, and Elva Lindeburg Leth

Poetry Editor: Mia Alexander

Assistant Poetry Editor: Mel Cort

Prose Editor: Eli Hoag

Design Editors: Sonia Menken and Kyle Reims

Copy Editors: Ben Gertner and Ben Goodman

The Team: Olivia Pace, George Manes, Kai Paik, Noa Koffman-Adsit, Mel Cort, Tyler Asher, Ben Gertner, Elva Lindeburg Leth, Jane Weitz, Megan Arias, Sonia Menken, Alex Short, Samantha Hager, Lewis Woloch

Cover design: Spencer Klink

Logo Design: Leo Egger

Special Thanks to: The heroes at 54 Home Ave., all the dear friends who make this magazine possible, Oliver Egger, Merve Emre, Amy Bloom, Ryan Launder, Alpha Delta Phi, The Shapiro Writing Center, The Wesleyan English Department, The Green Fund, and the SBC.

Wesleyan University 8 Table of Contents: Caroline Lamoureux 11 Our House Has Ants by Alex Short 12 Eleaonor Andersson 13 My 8 year-Old Heart by Lewis Woloch 14-17 Dylan Ng 18 Izzat Love? by Ben Gertner 19 Coco Brooks 20 Untitled by Grace Warner-Haakmat 21-24 Helen Townsend 24 Willow Frohardt 25 On Youth, Summer, and Love by Diana Venus 26 Eliza Austin 27 Winter in Los Angeles by Immi Shearmur 28-33 Coco Brooks 34 falling through the nest by Kai Paik 35-36 Performance by Chris Hadley 37 Rising Flames by Haden Embry 38-43 Eleanor Andersson 44 Buy a Bag of Oranges by Ben Gertner 45
9 how_to_play_minecraft by Ovis Aris 46-50 Eliza Austin 51 My Regression by Theo Dolan 52-53 hardform:mosh pit poetics by C. Martin 54-55 Bella Amenta 55 baby hands by Sophia Meloni 56-58 September by Grace Kuth 59 Helen Townsend 59 Untitled by Gissel Ramirez 60 Izi Peng 61 For Sonia by Amelia Platt 62-63 Dylan Ng 63 As Good as It Gets by Adam Wilan 64-65 Hand Holds by Sadie Cook 66-67 Eleanor Andersson 67 Letter to Floyd by Samantha Hager 68-69 Would your love set me down the street to wander? after Uri Rosenshine’s “Vivid Partitions” by Mia Alexander 70-71 Caroline Lamoureux 72 LIBERAL (ARTS) UTOPIA by Gemmarosa Ryan 73 Posterity Triptych: by Stecky 74-77 I am 21 and by Naya Jorgensen 78-80 Anna Merrifield 80
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Letter from the Editor

Over the course of three years and twelve issues, I feel I’ve probably said all there is to say, save for this: Working on the Lavender has been a gift. I can’t express how much this experience has meant, how much it has grown and shaped my life in so many ways. Endless thanks to the editorial team, to our writers, and to our readers.

All my love to Ella Spitz and Georgia Groome, whom I have no doubt will bring the magazine to new heights in the coming year. To Oliver Egger – how lucky was I to run into him at the club fair in September of 2021. And most of all to the Class of 2024. Our college experience

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didn’t begin the way we expected but no doubt we’ve made the most of the time we’ve had. Congratulations on an amazing four years.


Editor in Chief

1 & ^ \ D . . D . . O . . . . D . . D . . O . . . . D . . & D . . O . . . . D . . 5 D . . O . . . . D . . & D . . O . . . . D . . D . . O . . . . D . . & D . . O . . . . D . . 9 D . . O . . . . E # . ! ! . . . & . . O . . . O . . . . . . O . . " 3 . . . . . . " 3 . . . . . O . O . . . . . O . . . . . . .. % ^ \ . O . O . D . O . O - # . O . O . . O . O - # . O . O D % . O . OD . O . O . . O . O - # . O . O . z z { z % . O { . O zD { . O z . O D . O { z . OD . O { z . O . { % . O z . OD { . O z . O D { . O z . OE # . O ! ! { . z . O . E # . ! ! % . { z . OE # { . O ! ! . . O z . D . O { . O zD { . O z . O D
Caroline Lamoureux

Our House Has Ants Alex Short

Wesleyan University

Monday, I found ants clinging to the sleeve of my jacket as I walked to class.

Tuesday, two dead ants inside my body scrub and five in the bottle of lavender liqueur. Wednesday, ants crawled out of the crack in my bedroom wall.

Thursday, ants discovered the sticky wine glasses in the sink. I covered my nose and sprayed the dish rack with Raid.

Thursday, we teased Sadie, she pretended to be embarrassed. Miranda watched a movie with me and told better jokes than the writers. Immi performed her high school cheerleading routine, we chanted the words back.

Caroline told me she loved our life as she peeled the carrots for dinner.

On Friday, the exterminator comes. Falling asleep, I feel sorry for the ants. I don’t want to leave this house either.


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Eleonor Andersson

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My 8 Year-Old Heart

It all started back in elementary school, when I fell madly in love for the first time. She had straight, dirty-blond hair, dark green eyes, and a cool, collected demeanor that made my heart race. She sat in front of me on our bus ride to Clearpool, the yearly third-grade trip, and when she finally turned around with oversized sunglasses, flowing hair, and a wide smile, I was smitten. In fourth grade, a year later, once we had finally become friends, she laid her head on my lap during the annual Halloween dance, and, by Christmastime, there was little else I thought about besides her.

Once spring rolled around the Little League season started up, and we had a new addition to the team: a transfer student from Westchester named Eli. To my chagrin, my new friend was not only better at hitting baseballs than me but better at hitting on girls, too. He had that classic 2010’s Justin Bieber flow, and every time I rushed to the bathroom to check on my own spiky, cowlicked hair, I would come back to Eli and my crush perched next to each other at the same table. It broke my little, throbbing heart but I still pursued her, albeit a bit obsessively. I would keep track of how many times she talked to me per day, focusing on these statistics to such an extreme degree that I began to ignore my friends and schoolwork altogether.

The only part of the saga I can never remember is how this year ended, or what happened at graduation. I’m sure my obsessive tendencies didn’t help me much, and I can also assume that going to summer camp for eight weeks managed to rid me of some of the lust. But that quintessential narrative turning point, when the main character either wins his love over or loses her forever never happened for me, or is at least absent from my memory.

Regardless, many of the feelings returned when I arrived at my first-ever middle school class, chorus, and her head of flowing blonde hair was nowhere to be found. I was so shocked that my throat closed up and for that first week, every time we entered the cavernous, blue-walled classroom and started our

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first singing exercise, I was stricken with an immediate bout of nausea that eventually required a special chair to sit in as well as a meeting with my teacher, the school nurse, and my mom. I eventually figured out that middle school meant a choice between three musical classes, and not only had my crush chosen to be a member of the orchestra, but so had all of my closest friends. It felt like Eli all over again, and it wasn’t until the end of the year that I could fill out the necessary form to trade in my vocal cords for an enormous cello.

After this important class switch, I was able to keep my feelings to a dull murmur. It helped when, at the beginning of seventh grade, an older girl on the basketball team decided that I, with my fitted Yankees cap and patched jeans, would be the new object of her affections. This girl was known to date around, but, in my naiveté, I soon convinced myself that I had met the new love of my life, and the past four years had simply been a fluke. Sadly though, after four kisses, three Chipotle dates, two conversations during open gym, and one month filled with texting each other “ILYSM,” my Mrs. Robinson broke up with me over text. I heard the fateful ding from my Samsung flip phone as I sat on the toilet; I checked the small, dim screen, and immediately felt I was going to die. This feeling lasted about thirty minutes.

In the aftermath of my short-lived romance, I became aware that maybe I was just too young and loved too hard. It felt like the right time to put aside the crushes and infatuations and let schoolwork, sports, and friendships take precedence once again. Yet, with this sentiment in mind, I stumbled into the realest pickle of them all: my close-knit, dependable eighth-grade friend group included my blonde-haired crush, and not only that, but all the time we began to spend together made my feelings balloon into the most severe form of infatuation that I had ever been overtaken with.

Like most guy-girl friendships (at that age and quite possibly at any age as well), there was one side just wanting friendship and another side praying for something more.


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It was a real “When Harry Met Sally” conundrum… that is, if Sally never returned Harry’s affections and led him along a path of misery and self-loathing. I was in a constant cycle of pining for her attention, not receiving it to the degree I wanted, and then always wanting more. It wasn’t even that I wanted to kiss her, I was just addicted to her presence. And I think she began to notice, because the small quips she would always make, teasing me about my hair or my clothes, began to turn into larger insults.

As we neared graduation, tensions exploded into a fight over Snapchat. She compared me to a rat that we saw scurrying down a street in Prospect Heights, and after storming away back towards my house, I decided to vent my frustration online. I accused her of being a bad friend, and was in return served a painful silent treatment. By the time the dust settled, I had decided that the crush itself hadn’t been worth the five years of on-and-off anguish; she simultaneously decided that we should “be friends again.” This all happened during the last week of eighth grade, right around the time when I also decided that I wouldn’t be continuing on with her and all my other friends into high school. Instead, awaiting me was the notoriously challenging behemoth of a STEM school: Stuyvesant.

By the time I got to my virgin-ridden high school, a place chock full of serious academic weapons and devoid of anyone having any crushes at all, I had compartmentalized the half-decade worth of feelings into a dull murmur, and set off to focus on my studies and avoid drama at all costs. Yet somehow, as my high school graduation neared in 2020, I found myself in an almost identical pickle to 4 years prior. The culprit was a girl who had gone from one of those we-chat-in-our-Lit-class-but-don’t-hang-outsideof-school classmates to a come-walk-with-me-and-I’ll-spill-all-my-secretsabout-my-boyfriend-of-three-years close friend.


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And then I, after being deprived of any semblance of romance for most of high school (besides, obviously, the week (or could it have been day?) long flings filled with dry kisses that I’d have at summer camp), mistook this clear friendship as an obvious call for something more.

We hooked up at a friend’s house party, and the massive, purple hickey on my neck that I discovered in the morning was all I needed to confirm that I had found something special. The next thing I knew, I was FaceTiming her every night until four am during the painful beginnings of Covid. When she made it clear to me after a few weeks that we had just been talking “as friends,’’ and the one-time drunk makeout sesh/hickey party had basically been a mistake, I felt like I was back in eighth grade again. To tell you the truth, I handled it like any eighth grader would’ve: I sent her a crazy text at six in the morning, ruined our friendship, sulked around for a month, and promised myself I would never talk to her again.

Unfortunately, this whole situation stuck with me for a while. I became convinced, especially during the next four months of solitude, that I was doomed to a life sans romance. My inability to control feelings throughout the whole debacle also felt indicative of an extreme immaturity that had stuck with me since middle school. Yet somehow, I managed to flip the script here at Wesleyan. These days, I try not to use Snapchat as a dumping ground for my feelings; it seems that actually talking to a significant other solves problems a lot quicker.

And so now, when I graduate this spring, I’ll be without a defined career prospect, surely set to move back in with my parents in the fall, and basically broke. However, I won’t be heartbroken, and that for me is a huge triumph.


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Dylan Ng

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Izzat Love?

you smoke a parking ticket like a cigarette and put it out on the new leather, smoky fresh. the car fills with flames as you tell me you love me and want six kids who all play in a band together and get rich and famous and go their separate ways but we will all come back for thanksgiving and at that point we cut turkey with lasers and the turkey isn’t turkey it tastes like men but soylent green is illegal and the movie was real and the only thing that matters is the mets game on the radio but I don’t remember the score because the atmosphere is too foggy at this point and you fall asleep on the horn and it rings out forever and takes a thousand years to reach another planet with life on it and they hear it and can’t understand all that you said and thought and believed.


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Coco Brooks

The Lavender

I have worn a “J” around my neck ever since buying the fake gold necklace I spotted at a stand in Amsterdam. Going abroad directly after a major death in my family left me feeling like I ran away from him. I wanted to bring him with me, his name as close as it could be to my heart. This year, in February, I interviewed for a teaching position, something I had talked about with John when I was only in high school. He said I would make an amazing teacher. I said he was one already. During the interview, one of the students pointed to my necklace and asked “Why do you have a J?” They already knew me as Gracie, and were confused as to why I didn’t have a “G”. I am always stuck between telling people who ask the truth or some shortened version. I looked at the girl below me. There was a genuine curiosity in her voice, in her eyes. “My brother’s name is John.”

In second grade, my teacher asked me to write a poem about my favorite person. Without having to think twice I wrote about him: John is a sweet man. Always telling jokes. Really funny jokes. My eyes are always focused on him when he’s telling jokes. He has… black hair, brown eyes and a white face. I like John.

I Like John.


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My parents, sisters, and dog came to tell me at Wesleyan on May 5th under the false pretense that just my mom was coming home from a conference in Connecticut, and wanted to see how I was doing. With one person clearly missing, as soon as I saw only five of them step out of Usdan’s back door, I knew. Sitting me down on the steps of some building in the CFA, my mom began to detail how John had died as my heart sank into the tunnels. Having just been in acappella practice, I had the song “Tomorrow” by Miner stuck in my head, the lyrics “there will be better days” left on repeat. My dad asked if I wanted to come home, to which I thought what home? I decided to stay at school and felt incredibly selfish. I had just received my formal dress for that coming Saturday. It was pink and beautiful, and for some reason all I could think about was how tragic it would be if no one got to see it on me. My dad stayed the night, and asked in the morning if I was sure about my decision. They were meant to host a wake for John at our house at the exact same time as my formal. I said I was sure and he went home without me. I missed the only form of a funeral we had for John without any reason why. I regret it terribly. Georgia was furious with me, but I think she really was just wishing we could swap places.

I ransacked my room when I got home that May. I thought to myself of course John left me something. He wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye. But he didn’t, and I had to pretend a note he had sent me with a gift, my freshman year of college, was the one he had meant for me. “I hope you don’t feel stuck there. I love you and can’t wait to see you. From John V. Lombardo.” I do feel stuck, John. Why can’t I see you anymore? I am hopelessly obsessed with the idea that everything happens for a reason, but I can’t shake that this didn’t. I was so worried that I would forget about him, that I would lose memories if I wasn’t grieving. I kept myself in pain and expected everyone else to do the same, in honor of him. I created a playlist with all of his favorite songs, and another one of songs I think he’d like that


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came out after he had passed. I keep a notes app of all of my favorite moments with him and a photo album of all of our pictures and videos. I will sometimes call him “the man in our basement,” knowing he would find this new label funny, even though I refused to step foot down there for months.

John and I felt impossibly alike, and I found comfort in some of my more negative traits because he had them too, and he was incredible so, so was I. We were both messy, our rooms and our lives constantly all over the place, losing track of everything left and right. We both had a love of the arts and of teaching. He taught me how to use a film camera, giving me my first one. I would sit down with him during the holidays to create handmade collage cards for everyone in our little big family. We would talk for hours, or sit in silence, and I would never get sick of having him around. I would play him music while he cooked or crafted, and he would praise my taste in music, often asking how I knew all of the “oldies” (I never admitted that I got most of them from the TV show, Glee). He made me cookies when I was sad, which was frequently, and shared his experience being on the same anxiety medication as me. We talked about queerness only once or twice. I cannot begin to describe the pride I took in sharing a birthday (we would shout “May 19th!” whenever we did something similarly) with my favorite person, and I was so excited to share it with him that year.

I never felt anger, maybe I felt like I couldn’t. I wanted at least one person to be fiercely on his side, and I felt that if I were to ever be angry with him, I would be leaving him by himself. Hyper-aware of his drastically new image to the public, I wouldn’t dare leave him to fend for himself, even from the grave. Somewhere along my knowing him, I promised myself I would always be with him, even if he was the one to leave me in the end. I stick passionately to my memories.


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Picking me up by one of my arms, a grin spreading across both of our faces, John led me across the street while the walk sign quickly switched to a red, blinking hand. No one liked Christmas as much as me. They never wanted to get the tree or decorate the house. John, sensing my disappointment with my other parents, dragged me outside despite the snowstorm to get me my Christmas tree. We both knew who would be carrying it, but he never complained. Instead he made me laugh about how cold his hands were, and how stupid he was for not wearing the maroon gloves he got the Christmas before. I remember I wanted to give him mine, forgetting how much larger his hands were. All I knew was that we were the same, and that is all that mattered. Just me and my favorite person.

Helen Townsend
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Willow Frohardt

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On Youth, Summer, and Love

Warm California breeze

In the cold Connecticut town. It came here to remind me of you And the joy in life we have found.

It brought memories of our songs, Waffle-Wednesdays, along with the wine, All the dancing and midnight talks, Summer stars never cease to shine.

Dozen lips that curve in a smile, Dozen hearts so youthfully true. I will thank the California breeze, Send it back with my love to you.

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Eliza Austin

Wesleyan University

Winter in Los Angeles

Naomi met Will on an app. He had liked her profile, which featured a curated set of photographs that conveyed that she was both beautiful and interesting, but would put out given the right set of circumstances. She was likewise taken by his profile – a photo of him behind a camera, another of him standing in front of a white pickup, and a video which showed him doing some kind of demolition project, swinging a big hammer down to meet a pile of concrete slabs. He was seven years older than her with brown hair and a scruffy brown beard and huge blue eyes, huge almost like a frog’s. She sent him a like back, and the conversation began some minutes later.

Blushing as the messages rolled onto her phone, Naomi learned Will was a man with a real job – he was a freelance video editor – a real apartment – a one-bedroom off of Vermont Avenue – and a real house that he was building out in Joshua Tree. A house he was building. With his own two hands, tools, and money. On their first date weeks later, he would sit across from her in a dimly-lit restaurant, thick fingers curled around the base of a glass, sipping a soda and bitters because he was three months sober. He had lived enough of life to be sober.

It was her first first date ever. Naomi and the ex-boyfriend had just fallen into a relationship with each other, mostly just having sex a couple of nights a week until they decided to make it official. It was an interesting feeling to be with a man who wanted to spend money on her, to financially invest in courting her. Naomi liked to think she was valuable to Will in some way, that he was happy to buy her a cocktail and some oysters so that the other men could see him sitting with a beautiful young woman, inviting their jealousy of his great fortune.


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Naomi and Will hadn’t discussed the fact that she was much younger than him. When they had matched on the app, Naomi privately assumed that her age was part of her appeal, that the built-in power imbalance was, for him, sexually exciting. It certainly was for her. She had only been with boys her age — the ex-boyfriend, and then two other boys whom she slept with after the breakup in the thrill of her newly single life. She wanted to be with someone smarter than her, someone who had seen more than her, someone who, for all of that wealth of experience, could take care of her. It was slightly disappointing, then, when Naomi found speaking to Will no different than speaking to anyone else. She had expected her stomach to turn somersaults upon seeing a rogue tuft of chest hair peeking out under the neck of his shirt, inciting a brief reverie about the leagues of women he must have pleasured in his lifetime, but she just felt regular. If anything, she felt more grown up, gratified that she could carry out a conversation with this older man as if it was nothing. It was even more disappointing when Will made no allusion to his position as the older one, the wiser one, and even seemed uncomfortable when the conversation touched on the age gap. So Naomi tried to pretend it didn’t exist, but only for his sake – the idea of him being older kept her heart ablaze. She addressed him by name, allowing the simple single syllable to roll off her tongue, lingering on the “l” achingly.

Naomi learned Will was from Oregon, had been popular in high school, and loved movies by the Coen brothers. He asked her questions in turn, and she told him about her mother’s death and her complicated relationship with her father. Perhaps spurred on by Naomi’s candor, Will revealed that he, too, had experienced Something Big and Tragic when he was fifteen years old: His estranged older brother, who was a meth addict, broke into his house and tried to shoot and kill him, his mother, and his father.

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Rather than feeling horrified at this revelation, Naomi was ecstatic. A rush tumbled through her entire body: Here was someone who had been through something so outlandishly terrible that it blew her mother’s death clean out of the water. Here was someone that could say to her, and mean it, “I know more than you. I have seen more than you.” The rushing feeling settled somewhere between her legs.

Afterwards, they walked around the residential streets. As they rounded a corner, Will pulled out a lime green vape and dragged on its rectangular protruding nipple, and Naomi caught herself before disdain could color her “No” when he asked if she would like some “nic.” She wished he could smoke a cigarette like a real man, but everyone has their vices.

It was silent save for the distant rushing of cars and their voices mingling in the thin winter air. The canopy of jacaranda trees cast the sidewalk into almost complete darkness. Naomi was feeling very comfortable in Will’s company when she suddenly remembered that he was a complete stranger, and thought perhaps she ought to be frightened. She imagined that he might wrap his arms around her to throw her into the back of a car and then into a basement where she would stay forever, never to see daylight again. However, this fantasy filled her less with fear and more with breathless exhilaration; she wished he would wrap his arms around her, arms sturdy like tree trunks, and hold her so close that she would stop breathing and die, and then shrink down her body and place it on a peasized bed in a pea-sized house erected in his ear so she could be a part of him forever.

They saw each other again the next night. They went to the movies. He was late but she forgave him. He left his wallet at home so she paid for the tickets with the savings from her part-time job, for which she made under twenty dollars a week hanging posters around her college campus, but she loved it because she loved the idea of people wondering what she was doing walking around with all those posters.


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At the end of their date the night before, Naomi and Will had exchanged Instagrams. In bed, Naomi scrolled back to discover a video he had posted for his ex-girlfriend’s birthday. Naomi let the video play over and over again, sometimes with the volume off and sometimes with it on so she could hear the Clairo song the cuts were synched to. In the Instagram square, the ex-girlfriend ate a burrito, swung on a swing, laughed in bed, spritzed perfume onto a Madewell blouse. Naomi gathered that Will and the ex had been together for two years, but beyond that could learn nothing as the girl’s own profile was, cruelly, private.

In the dark of the theater, Naomi imagined she was the ex-girlfriend, pre-breakup. She imagined she and Will knew each other’s families and complained about their habits on the car ride home, and had bought groceries together, and that she had sat on the toilet while he brushed his teeth in the morning, that she had come home from a night out with her friends to find Will dozing on the couch and would gently shake him awake and lead him into bed. Her eyes glazed over as Babylon played on the big screen. She hoped that he would lift his hand from the arm rest that separated them and place it on her leg. That’s what he would have done with the ex-girlfriend, pre-breakup — to be with someone for so long is to touch their body unquestioningly, almost as if it is your own.

Will hated the movie but she liked it, and then he explained why he didn’t like it and then she decided that she didn’t either. Afterwards, Naomi drove him home and parked her car across from his apartment. She had already decided that she wanted to come inside, but played coy when he asked, “Would you like to come in?”

“I do … but I’m not sure I should,” she replied, parrying his advances.

“We don’t have to do anything,” he said, facing her full-on from the passenger seat, the boyish sentence offset by his broad shoulders, draped over with a blue t-shirt, filling the right side of the car.


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Naomi followed him from the car into the apartment. Will had just moved there. The walls were mostly bare, there were dirty dishes in the sink. They sat on his couch and he dragged on the vape, blowing thick white clouds to unfurl into the vacant expanse of the room. There was an empty Starbucks cup on the coffee table. The next morning she would learn that he took his coffee hot with a splash of half-and-half.

He asked her what her favorite song was and she told him it was “Blue Motel Room” by Joni Mitchell, because it was. Then, she supposed because they had done the requisite amount of talking, the lights were down and her song was playing and he was kissing her, pulling her onto his lap and running his hands over her back. He slid his arm under her legs and laid her on her back and lowered himself on top of her and he was Mr. Darcy and Ryan Gosling and Indiana Jones and Johnny Cash and she was the smallest, youngest American girl who, in the grand scheme of things, had never really been kissed before this.

For the next two weeks, Naomi practically lived at Will’s apartment. The bedroom was sparse just like the living room. His bed had a simple beige duvet and a pilling red falsa blanket laid folded at the end. The windows were North facing and covered with heavy Venetian blinds, so the room remained dark no matter the time. But Naomi didn’t mind because in the morning, laying behind her, with a flat palm on her chest Will would pull her in so close there wasn’t an inch between them and she believed Will loved her because men don’t touch girls that mean nothing to them like that.

One night, she learned that Will owned two guns. He kept them in a black canvas bag in the closet in the hall. She asked if she could see them.

He went to the closet and took out the bag and laid it on the couch and unzipped it to reveal the matte black bodies of the two guns, one big and one small. He gave her the big gun, the shotgun. He told her how to hold it; brought her left hand to cradle the forend, brought her right hand to


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the trigger, and her cheek to rest on the cold lead of the comb. She did not feel fear, as perhaps she should have, that a twenty-something-year-old living out in Los Feliz could have two guns in his closet like it was no big deal. Rather, she imagined Will as a small boy in Oregon, standing in tall grass out in a field shooting at tin cans in a flannel shirt and blue jeans and brown boots.

On the last night they spent together that winter, Naomi brought Will her copy of Slouching Towards Bethlehem with her annotations from when she was sixteen because she wanted to endear herself to him. In bed, he offered to read aloud to her. He read “John Wayne: A Love Story,” in which Didion writes about her visit to the set of The Sons of Katie Elder in 1965.

Didion writes about sitting alongside John Wayne and Dean Martin and Dennis Hopper in the New Mexican desert, the painted sunsets and the dust and Kraft services. She writes that Wayne, on camera, was infallible, that he gave the promise of infinite strength and protection, of right prevailing over evil, of sweeping a good lady off of her feet, of being a father and a brother and a lover to those who watch him. And yet, just as Wayne sat in a dusty director’s chair in chaps and a gun holster, he was battling a fatal cancer diagnosis, a battle he would lose not five years later. The moment is a paradox. A man is at once dying and made immortal, his body deteriorating but his image projected infinitely into the future, his existence inerasable in the movies he made. A decision must be made to either grieve the real or celebrate the unreal. Laying beside Will, Naomi had already made her choice.

With her head on his chest, Naomi listened to Will read Didion lament, “although the men I have known have had many virtues and have taken me to live in many places I have come to love, they have never been John Wayne, and they have never taken me to the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.” Naomi felt for poor Joan. Certainly soon she and Will would be bound for the bend in the river, and their house out there wouldn’t have enough room for visitors.


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Coco Brooks

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falling through the nest

“Don’t go outside,” my mother tells me; “you’ll get lost. in the rain was falling dark shingles from the sky. I wanted to be missed

Though they were speaking in numbers so I hid in the basement from Buddy-buddy and Sing; to cherish the sound of dark water rolling over my head as marbles do.

my mother is not there (to tell) and I am missing

Still Eight — teen agers mill-stomping among must and rhinestones the nicotine leaves dark hollows in our wake; we wheel through gutted ballrooms with torn-tapestry windows


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while years slough off shoulders intermingling on the mezzanine. oh mother– oh Ms.–(we have known each other for a very long time.)

Until I never left on lucent wings of my own; kept by the graces of anodyne dreams, lost forwords and strewn backward to drift down dark rivers of rapture with no tether to lose and no urns to bear.


I am my mother and she is yours but I miss you.

The Lavender


i am sitting on stage eating my legs. i want to eat so much jelly my stomach hurts, i want my stomach to explode. i want my chest to fracture, i want to feel my teeth crack. i want you to watch.

i am sitting on your bed, head backwards, i am drinking coffee from a straw. i am performing for you. this is a striptease. i am peeling at my lips. i am throwing stone fruit. i am eating my hand.

do you want to see a magic trick? all the ways i kill myself without you noticing.

yes and what else? yes and what else? what else can i give you? this is a striptease.


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Rising Flames

Haden Embry


The sound of the sea waves crashing on the coastline is audible. On a cliffside overlooking the water, JACQUES (20s), a short, lean soldier dressed in tan undergarments, walks peacefully away from a humble makeshift church. A tall, dignified PRIEST (30s) walks alongside him in weathered robes.

They walk into the main campsite with soldiers lounging, drinking coffee, and playing cards outside.


I believe I can find freedom in the fighting arm. But I’m worried they will cast me aside if I can’t prove my worth.


Jacques, the sous chef serves a vital role in our battle for salvation.


I understand the importance of my role in this war, Father. What I confess is a fear of returning to my village. Returning to a tepid life.

Jacques looks out at the horizon. A figure on a horse is galloping toward the camp from the distance.


I want to live... not exist.


Jacques, your desire for more will not go unnoticed. (gently)

He’ll call you, Jacques, just as God called Samuel. And you’ll follow.


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Jacques takes in the priest’s words. A MESSENGER (20s) swiftly approaches the bivouac on a horse shouting repeatedly:


The commander-in-chief is traveling non-stop and will arrive any minute! Attention!

The officers and soldiers spring up from their reclined positions. Jacques looks around nervously. The priest nods approvingly at him, then turns and leaves.

The bivouac rushes with chaos around Jacques. Soldiers race to get organized and get their uniforms on.

Jacques turns and hustles through the mass of people to a large tent at the center of the campsite.


Jacques strides into the big tent and puts on an apron. The tent is scattered with potatoes and chickens in every state of undress. In the corner is a large hearth fire.

A large man with a wine-stained apron and face, the COOK (40s), is passed out near the fire. He’s surrounded by a dozen near-empty wine bottles.

Jacques looks down at him. The only sign the Cook is not dead is his steady, heavy breathing.

He grabs a wine bottle and pours wine over the Cook’s face, trying to stir him. He doesn’t move. Jacques throws the bottle down at him and kicks his side. Steady breathing. He picks up another empty bottle and throws it down harder.

A man in a blue uniform and black bicorne, the CAPTAIN (50s), steps into the tent.


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He will want to inspect the kitchens.

He looks down at the Cook.


He won’t be happy with this image. Get the chef out of here.

He leaves hastily.

Jacques squats down and prepares to lift the Cook. He raises the Cook’s upper body a few inches off the ground. He moves him with a helpless shuffle until his hands give out and drops him back down.

He wipes sweat from his forehead. Sudden footsteps of passersby at the tent entrance startles Jacques.

Jacques leaves the Cook and rushes to a tabletop in the center of the tent. He takes a raw, de-feathered chicken, thoroughly seasons it, and slides it onto a large, metal skewer.

He carefully mounts the skewered chicken above the hearth, placing it perfectly above the fire.

He pokes at the fire with an iron rod, and the fire under the chicken quickly gains strength and brightens the tent in a warm flickering blaze.

Jacques looks back to the Cook. He raises his hands and prays.


God, give me the strength.

A buff, ginger soldier in uniform, PATRICK (20s), peeks into the tent.


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He’s coming around. Jacques?

He sees Jacques and the Cook who’s passed out at his feet. Jacques looks up at him, frightened.


Patrick, lend me a hand, please!

They both struggle to lift the Cook a few inches off the ground and shuffle him on the floor. They drop him only a foot away from his original spot.



This is absurd! The cook’s been drunk since we fled Egypt!

JACQUES (thinking)

...In Egypt, the Egyptians lifted heavy obelisks with a fulcrum.

Determined to solve this, Jacques looks around the tent and finds a long oar. They squeeze the oar to be levered under the Cook’s back and dig a small pit at his feet with ladles.


Now, all our strength at the end of the oar, and he’ll go up.

They stand at the top end of the oar and hoist it up with unwavering determination. Like Lazarus, the Cook rises. To both of their horror, the Cook is upright, standing limp between them.

Jacques pushes him onto Patrick and skillfully wedges the oar through the back of the Cook’s belt. With Patrick’s help, he shoves the bottom end of the oar into the pit on the ground to better support the body.


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The tent flaps part and a decorated CAPTAIN (50s) strides in. The color drains from his face when he sees the Cook drenched in wine, unconscious, and standing upright with Patrick and Jacques on either side of him. The Captain opens his mouth to speak but nothing comes out.

A short and stout NAPOLEON (20s), dressed to perfection, pushes his way into the tent.

Napoleon looks around the tent. He turns sharply and sizes up the winestained Cook.


(gesturing to the Cook)

Who is he?


The Cook, sir. A little bit drunk, sir.

Patrick steps forward and starts speaking in Corsican to Napoleon directly.


The cook is out cold, sir. We tried our best to remove him. This soldier suggested we lift him following the lines of your Egyptian campaign, sir, using an oar.

Jacques looks fearful of what is being said and strains to hold onto the Cook’s body. Napoleon sniffs the air and walks to the chicken roasting on the spit. Examining it, he purses his lips and raises his eyebrows. Jacques shivers. Napoleon walks over to Jacques and looks up at him.


Name and occupation?


Jacques, sous chef, sir.


...You see, Captain, this is what makes my army invincible, the ingenuity and determination of even the humblest soldier.


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The Captain smiles weakly.


You will witness remarkable accomplishments working for me, Jacques. You may be eating your dinner off an Englishman’s plate before long. Captain, see to it that this boy is promoted to the position of my personal chef. I expect everyone in my army to be dependable. My personal chef should be as trustworthy as my generals! Patrick, we will be riding out this evening, after dinner.

Napoleon turns and leaves the tent. The Captain follows behind him.

Patrick gives a relieved look at Jacques, but Jacques is shaking from a mix of shock and muscle weakness.


...Help me.

Patrick rushes to help Jacques lower the cook to the ground. Jacques finally sighs in relief. He stands up taller.


I’m Napoleon’s personal chef... Patrick nods. He brushes his uniform and starts to walk out as if nothing unusual happened.


(over his shoulder)

Don’t forget the chicken.

Jacques inhales deeply and hurries over to the spit-roasting chicken. He quickly turns the skewer over the fervent fire, rotating the chicken.

As he looks down at the other raw chickens around him, Jacques lets out a profound sigh of relief. His face flushes with a mixture of surprise and delight at his unexpected promotion.


Wesleyan University

Eleonor Andersson

Buy a Bag of Oranges Ben Gertner

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1. Something bad has to happen first.

2. Buy a bag of oranges.

3. Take one out. Save it for later.

4. Put the bag in the freezer.

5. Run a shower. Make it HOT.

6. Bring the reserve orange to the bathroom.

7. Prepare to shower (remove sticker).

8. Enter with your new friend.

9. Devour their pulp like an animal.

10. Don’t you feel alive?!

11. Turn off tap.

12. Clean up pith.

13. After drying off, go to the kitchen.

14. Get really mad.

15. Take two oranges from the bag in the freezer.

16. Hold them like Lady Justice.

17. Center yourself in their cold.

18. Think for once that maybe it’s not all that bad.

19. Discard.

20. Feel a bit free.

Wesleyan University 46


Minecraft is a video game. Based on information provided by the FBI, the government understands that it is common for persons discussing criminal activity online to refer to such activity as occurring “in Minecraft” to conceal the true nature of the activity.—United States v. Nordean, 1:21-cr00175, (D.D.C.), Document 45.

Hey there. It’s good to see a new face in this corner of the map. I don’t know why you’re playing this game—I don’t know why I am, either—but here we are, in the same area, in the same server. So welcome, dear reader, to Minecraft. You have been playing since you were born, and will continue to play until you die.

Perhaps, despite this, you aren’t familiar with Minecraft; if you are, forgive me for explaining. In this game, you can interact not only with the environment, but also with other players. With a little effort and the right tools, you can create and destroy at will, shaping the world around you to your liking, building magnificent structures and fostering wonderful communities. You can dig for precious and limited resources underground, or sustain yourself by growing a variety of crops by the river. Or you can meander about and hit things with your fists. The choice is yours. Nature presented daunting risks to the first players on this Minecraft server. Treacherous ravines and deep oceans stood to eliminate anyone daring enough to challenge them. Bloodthirsty monsters spawned in the dark, ready to swarm anyone caught unprepared. Do not worry, though, for we have all but quelled the dangers of nature. Our ancestors have already utterly decimated the population of monsters server-wide. We have lit up every corner of the map, sacrificing our view of the stars in exchange for safety from the unknown. We have harnessed the powers of coal and iron to reach far and wide,

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prying into every cave and crevice with our cold, uncompromising machinery. There is no need to risk your hide mining for ores anymore—our invisible hands have extracted them all.

As for the peaceful animals that once roamed the map—cows, sheep, pigs, chickens—we have dominated those as well. Billions of them are caged in our factories, living through life cycles we have carefully optimized so they produce as much meat and fur as possible from their insignificant bodies. We brutally harvest their flesh and skin, carting them millions of blocks away to be processed into the food we gorge on in dining halls or the extravagant clothes we wear just once a year. Anything left of the animals fertilizes our crops or is turned into chemicals.

Given this amount of power, there seemed to be no sense in adapting ourselves to fit the world. So we adapted the world to fit us. Nothing was safe from our schemes of control and conquest—not even our own kind. Mastering nature left our wants for hierarchy yet unfulfilled, so we tyrannized each other. We constructed governments, currencies, militaries, and schools. We came up with words to associate players with particular regions, lineages, and behaviors. These social constructs have become so powerful that they influence every facet of our daily lives. There is no question that we are now less threatened by nature than we are by other players in the game. As we hunger for new lands, we sack villages and burn forests, displacing animals and players from their homes. In the towering industrial cities we construct, we hire officers in blue diamond armor to patrol the streets and fire arrows with reckless abandon at players they deem suspicious. We sell terribly efficient warplanes and bombs to others on the other side of the map so they may do our imperialist bidding for us: staging coups, killing civilians, or administering an open-air prison. Let us now examine our own place in this server. We have assumed the roles of students in a beautiful school campus constructed from blocks of brick and cobblestone, standing with confidence accumulated alongside


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centuries of old money. Purportedly, we are here to educate ourselves, such that we may improve the condition of this world. Yet the very existence of this institution—like so many others—was conceived from the forcible displacement and erasure of an entire culture, and is sustained by investments that fund the exploitation of natural resources and the engineering of death machines for our military. Our stay here has a hefty price, paid not only by ourselves but also by the greater world.

For fear of being considered out of touch, we portray ourselves as ardent intellectuals well aware of this reality. The dead scholars we read in class tell us that the server is broken—so what do we do about it? We regurgitate their analyses into essays and fold paper tigers from them. We sign petitions for divestment, but allow administrative staff to evade demands of transparency, so that they promise to wash their hands by 2025 but could simply move money around from problematic stocks to problematic mutual funds without us being any the wiser. We sit back while sexism keeps female professors from tenure while sexual harassers remain distinguished faculty. We watch idle as every single university office lets our most vulnerable students go neglected and unhoused over breaks. We allow antiquated building designs to keep disabled students from accessing important parts of campus. We cannot even manage to take back a right to express ourselves with washable chalk on the sidewalk.

If we are fighting, we have lost our swords—and the administrators of this server are well aware. No changes are made at the upper level, save those cheap and palatable enough to wealthy centrist donors that they are worth the boost to the school’s public image. And you can bet that every baby step this university does take will be flaunted as if the board of trustees thought of it themselves, lauded on signs at every parent’s weekend until every drop of public relations value is exhausted. If student activism is a battle, I know not who the enemy is, but they are surely winning.


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We are losing this school, and we have not even begun to fight off campus. Just twenty minutes away, a factory makes engines for the very same warplanes that bomb civilians as we sleep. Just twenty minutes away, our neighbors and professors are engineering the very last sound children hear before they die. And we do nothing but shake our heads from a distance. Are enough of us really trying? It has not been so many years since large groups of players occupied buildings on campus, others took weeklong hunger strikes, and one fearless soul threw two fire charges through the glass panes of the president’s office. They were angry at apartheid then, and we have that and much more to be angry about now. So which buildings have we taken? Where are the hunger strikes? Why is the president still sitting so smugly at his desk? We cannot blame our organizers, either— our short marches, though valiantly planned, gather maybe a hundred players at most. The critical mass of students willing to do anything disappeared long ago, and everyone running this place knows it. Have we lost some sense of agency, or perhaps a great degree of collective grit? I pray that this is the case, for the alternative—that our standards are so low that they’ve already been met—is far more terrifying. I wonder how long it will be before our student body reclaims its authority. With the right tools and planning, there is not one bolted door, not one locked window, not a single piece of brick or cobble that is truly impenetrable to us. The very tunnels that were shoveled block by block for our navigation impede our movement only because we are too timid to make entry. We could fill entire buildings with our protests if only we got off our asses. We could disrupt the very heart of this university or shut down that horrible factory if only we had the audacity. Instead we resign ourselves to allowing our school, town, and country to continue its deterioration, hand over fist, towards an authoritarian rule and a neoliberal worldview. What do I care? I’ve seen four years of this bullshit, and I’m sick of it, and I’m finally leaving. In just a few months I’ll wander over to some

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other godforsaken institution with all the same problems. I just wonder if I will remember myself as someone who tried to make a difference, or if I’ll regret my time here for being spent in complacency. I fear it will be the latter.

Reader, I have been told to create dangerously. I am a coward, so this is all I bring you: a last-ditch effort to stir up some courage. It is no place of mine to instruct anyone to take imminent or lawless action. I merely call for a consciousness and urgency that seems to be diminishing among those playing in this game, myself included. Perhaps this call will resonate. Perhaps students will redistribute this and other letters and prepare to make some real change. Or perhaps I have merely folded another toothless paper tiger. For now, I implore you: stay safe, be kind, and fight like hell.


The Lavender 51
Eliza Austin

Wesleyan University

My Regression

It’s weird that I am graduating soon, cause I honestly feel like I am just getting into my groove as a 6th grade boy.

For example, my birthday was the same day that we turned in our theses, which is like a big grown-up milestone and stuff, but that morning I got a Mr. Beast Basketball as a gift.

And I loved it. I LOVE Mr. Beast. He is the greatest Youtuber of all time. Every time he drops a new video, I lowkey can’t help myself and watch it right away.

They are always the most unethical things possible, like locking 2 strangers in a room for 100 days in order for them to win 500,000 dollars.

Or the time that he buried himself alive for 7 days, and in the middle he starts crying but keeps saying that he doesn’t know why he’s crying. Ummmm… Mr. Beast it’s cause you buried yourself alive.


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The best video though is when he puts a guy in a grocery store and every day that he stays in there he gets 10,000 dollars. The windows are all blacked out and Mr. Beast cuts the power in the grocery store like a week in.

The guy just sits in the loading bay for hours upon hours to look at the sun.

I sometimes get nervous about kids who idolize Jimmy Donaldson (mr. beast’s real name)

He is a horrible influence.

But I love him.

In a way, I am Mr. Beast. At least I hope so.


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hardform: mosh pit poetics

the sweat the spit the beer each liquid moment pierced by deep digs of bass beat dropping like full fruit flies circling landing nowhere & Slam! squished flat & red in your palm but blood doesn’t belong in the pit like look out for your friends & know your strength even as you lose yourself as you dissolve remember your sharpest edges like your elbows & what kind of intimacy is this crafted on cruel care? we’re citationally falling tonguetotonguetotongue in syntax strange & run-ons tight-typed loose fishnet tights & boots mullets in all possible permutations it’s the punk gender: clothing & gaze & voice threatening legibility unmeaning unzips the air with a fierce glance listening while leaning away


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at a slight slant –and you’re here: my mutual-muse blinking like a cursor between big rips of guitar in my dizzy-periphery - Come in: place of public feeling where we gather. It doesn’t matter who’s performing because everyone’s in on it. I’m not sure where me ends and someone else begins or why my neck is wet, what liquid splashed onto my hair. Don’t know which arm is mine which word which voice – someone is screaming maybe it’s me. Hardcore is a permission slip for ways of writing and living that hold onto all the wrong things for a little too long: a failure to congeal. Holding onto all the embodiments you’re supposed to shed to align properly in time. Hardcore is a place to return: a place to land like sticky flypaper when whatever small town or story you crawled from can’t hold you anymore. When someone in the pit pushes you, you push back. Dialogue of hands. Back and forth. Hands like radio signals. Buzzing across the gap.

Bella Amenta

56 baby hands

Wesleyan University

Veronica enjoyed university almost aggressively in the way that a person is supposed to. With an inexhaustible social battery and an academic edge, Veronica stood head and shoulders above her peers. It was that quality that she cheekily referred to as working smarter, not harder, but was something more innate than that. It was her keen sense for the system—that dangerous consciousness of knowing nothing but knowing better. She spent four years sitting at the front of class in a matching sweat suit, sipping an ice coffee and biding her time until she could drop a one-liner to dunk on a classroom of intellectual lightweights.

Veronica’s social exceptionalism was no different from her academic. When she experienced uncomfortable consciousness or inconclusive futurity, there was always a bar crawl, a sports game or a beach darty to pull her out of her head and right back into the fray.

Graduation day came quick. She moved back home to Los Angeles with the distinct feeling that she had no idea what was next. Aunt Barbara took her to a Pilates class to find the fix.

Veronica was halfway through a kegel, when she found purpose. She would work in public relations.

Pfizer was on a hiring spree, assembling a team to launch the media campaign for their new oncology unit. Veronica knew nothing about the pharmaceutical sphere, but she had business slacks and an impressive CV. Within a week, she signed a salaried contract and bought a pack of seamless underwear that would sit inoffensively under her work trousers.

Aunt Barbara had armed her well for the cut-throat world of the business casual. For the first day of Hanukkah Veronica received a Dyson, and for the eighth a business blouse. When making her cubical debut in the New Year, Veronica walked confidently into the 44th street office, kitten heels echoing on the slick marble flooring. Her winter wool coat cinched at the waist, maturing her otherwise youthful stature.

Aunt Barbara had armed her well for the cut-throat world of the business casual. For the first day of Hanukkah Veronica received a Dyson, and for

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the eighth a business blouse. When making her cubical debut in the New Year, Veronica walked confidently into the 44th street office, kitten heels echoing on the slick marble flooring. Her winter wool coat cinched at the waist, maturing her otherwise youthful stature.

Not mentally, but physically, Veronica was pushed to her limits. As the assignments rolled in, Veronica’s hands stretched across the sprawl of the desktop keyboard.

Somewhere between a rare disability and an unfortunate genetic twist, Veronica’s hands were clinically petite. Like those of an infant, they lacked both size and dexterity, which slightly inhibited her in matters of nimbleness and tact. Nevertheless, within weeks, Veronica had become unpleasantly accustomed to the demands of the corporate world. She had mastered the art of the quick blowout, perfected the curt email, and could make it from Grand Central to the glass door of her office in under ten minutes provided she walked at a clip and didn’t stop for an early morning cigarette.

On Mondays, her millennial superior made the rounds, graphic girl-boss mug in hand, to rank the employees based on physical appearance. She typed confidently with a capable clack on the keys of her double monitored desktop. Her manicure was merely a cosmetic fix; an acrylic stop gap for her functionally childlike hands. But Veronica placed comfortably in the high-middle.

By the end of her first month, Veronica had a company computer, a client dinner once a week and a closet full of Aritzia business slacks folded neatly into pant hooks, but the pangs returned. It was not noble work, but when Pfizer found the cure for childhood cancer, Veronica would be credited with the fastest instagram post. The unsung hero, baby hands in overdrive, dancing across an iPhone keypad to spread the good word.

The office was in a frenzy in the one-month lead up to the premier of their Superbowl commercial. One-hundred and twenty-three million eyes watching as Pfizer introduced their pediatric oncology initiative. A musical animation of scientists singing in a library would end in a saccharine tableau of bald children smiling and waving from their wheelchairs. The screen would fade to black with a single block of white text pledging Pfizer’s commitment to end childhood cancer in America.


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58 A commercial intended to break hearts and open minds. Pfizer the cheeky. Pfizer the sentimental. Pfizer the benevolent. Pfizer the anti-Sackler. Pfizer the exceptional. Pfizer, football’s big pharma darling.

Veronica got to work on statistics. She was tasked with finding the death count of those treated in the company’s new program. A file of a thousand names was dropped on her desk to investigate. She trudged through the first dozen, painstakingly sifting through parents’ Facebook accounts to find memorial posts or a wall littered with “rip” messages. Most searches came up inconclusive, their profiles indistinguishable from a sea of healthy people with the same name. It was in a search of “Kate Smith age 10 dead?” that Veronica landed on a jackpot of youth obituaries. There she inputted the remaining 988 names, and found that most were deceased. She was done by lunch and braved the Sweetgreen on 44th and 2nd to pick up the office group order.

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the light is honey today, and we do not mind the heat, sitting on the back porch, the past three years a shorthand. I am ten again, and the world’s axis tilts towards the schoolyard strawberry-cheeked and wild. We share the last Modelo, lean our backs against hot wood, and as if already remembering my now think of next September, think about thinking about this September. Gather it like water, how warm it all felt and how we didn’t mind and how the light was honey.

Helen Townsend

Wesleyan University

“Maybe I’ll just drop out now,” I would tell my mom, both as a joke and a hopeless cry for help. When I was in high school, we would sit at our kitchen table, drinking coffee and eating a concha before she had to go back to cooking dinner, and I returned to my homework.

“That’s okay, Gissel, you can always work with me,” she would joke as she took another bite of her pink sugar-coated pastry. Even if she didn’t really mean it, I knew the possibility existed. With her words echoing in my mind, I found myself in the bathroom, spraying Windex and moving a paper towel across the mirror, praying that a streak wouldn’t be left behind. My reflection was in the mirror—sweat dripping down on my forehead, small puddles growing around my underarms, hair statically rising, and one big smudge blocking the clear sight of my right eye. My mom’s favorite cumbia track played in the background, and I sighed again when I realized I needed another paper towel.

Whenever I would have a day off from school, bright and early, we’d ride the seven train commuting to apartments or penthouses that contain piles of laundry, sticky remains of liquor on the couch, and dust bunnies all over the floor. I’ve had irritated eyes from cleaning bathrooms with bleach, backaches from endlessly mopping floors with a Swiffer, and sore arms from unloading washing machines and making king-sized beds. When we got home from work, there was only enough time for a quick coffee and concha break with my mom. In an instant, I transitioned straight into homework assignments and, ultimately, raced against the clock.

I laugh at my mom’s joke, but I can still hear, “Si no te gusta, tienes que estudiar” whenever I don’t want to go to work with her. If you don’t like it, you have to study. My mom’s favorite way to motivate me was to joke that I could join her instead of finishing school, even suggesting that we could have our own housekeeping company someday, with matching T-shirts and business cards.

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Izi Peng

Wesleyan University 62

A Rose pristine, untouched, roots sunk deep in the soil, stands alone in the snow-covered humus beneath the pines at the Reservation.

A Rose named after two Jewish grandmothers the last of three, the only girl, a writer she pirouettes around her kitchen island and sings Dylan while strumming the guitar.

A Rose an only child, “a blessing” after a series of almosts headstrong, curious, streaming with life, she picks flowers to put in her hair and always takes the middle seat.

Together we bound around the squash courts of the grimy YMCA jump the fence to the reservoir peel clementines in the kitchen get drunk and bike home say that sex doesn’t matter and friendship is forever make it through.

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I imagine she goes in three ways on an apartment in Williamsburg or Flatbush or the lower east side, gets a writing job, hosts dinner parties, buys a used bike. I stay here, at least for the year, live in a house with my friends, scrutinize over scribbled-on chalkboards look for the roses blooming in the spring.

A Rose petals unfurling with the warmth. The snow is melting at the Reservation and everything is starting to grow again pink and red and white. Amelia Rose and Sonia Rose, a perfect pair separated only by a graduation date.

Wesleyan University 64

As Good as It Gets

My Dad has a chest in his room—well to call it a chest would be an exaggeration. My Dad has a box in his room—an old plastic tub filled with years of his life. He sports a long-gone but beautiful head of curly black hair in every musty picture. My father is very handsome. The box holds his album from when he tried to model. On my favorite page, he sits in a lifeguard chair, glowering at the camera and holding a cigarette in his left hand. At 57 My Dad doesn’t smoke, although he does own a nice mahogany pipe. He still glowers.

One day in my senior year of high school, I found myself sifting through the tub, idly picking through moments: His high school yearbook—“Go Hornets!”—, his debate trophies, the filthy letters he received from his childhood best friend Rich while he was a camp counselor. In one letter Rich had drawn himself lying next to two naked women in a bed; “One for me and one for you Kenny.” Rich isn’t much of an artist, one woman was missing a nose.

My Dad has a good friend from college named Roger. I’ve only met Roger once—he seemed very nice, but it’s apparent Roger’s a little bit crazy. Roger lives in Vietnam. I don’t know much about what he gets up to out there but I do know he had an affair with one of Vietnam’s top pop stars. She was his wife’s best friend. That’s how these things go.

My Dad says Roger’s too smart for his own good. He doesn’t realize that he is. It’s probably why they get along so well. I think I’m at a nice level of smart, far enough away from that level of genius where you think yourself into the void. My Dad skates on the lip of the void, Roger’s lost somewhere in the middle.

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In the chest, I came across a journal—an old notebook dating back to his and Roger’s last semester. 1989, University of Pennsylvania. There were doodles in the margins—scratchings bearing a remarkable resemblance to the little pictures in my books. The notebook ended halfway through, the remainder blank yellowing paper. The final entry was from the day of his graduation - May 20th.

Me and Roger were walking down Locust Walk. The asshole turned to me and said:



Roger’s a bastard. Who needs Roger.

This is the best it’ll ever get. What a thought.

Fuck me!!!!”

Later that day I told my Dad I found the journal. I asked him if it was true—if it had all been downhill from there.

He said he didn’t know what I was talking about.

I went back to the bin later that night. The yearbooks were still there—so was the modeling album. The journal was gone.

Wesleyan University

Hand Holds

October in Vermont and I move, deliberate.

Through barren pines branches grasp against vulnerable skin: unwanted touch and scratches that will scar.

I entangle in the glitters of light clawing slow through overstory pockets, sticking out my tongue like a child catching snowfall.

I hope for nothing here but a call from the wind. Trust me, I scream and will: I can be wild too.

Swallowing fulfilled breaths, forest air bleeds forth buttercup fingernails. Ivy vines unravel thin hair, my chest rises and falls to the beat of whispering nameless life.

Golden beams dim while a melancholy night drapes a velvet blanket.


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The forgiving, Or maybe only sympatheticMoon reaches out. I receive it gladly, in desperate acceptance.

In my dreams I will never let go.

Eleonor Andersson

Wesleyan University


We meet up at Floyd to sit in the back and play bocce. The 40ft long clay court runs down the side of the bar with a huge leather couch at the head of it for the audience. “The game” is blurrily projected on the brick wall, nearly intangible. Everyone shows up one by one, stopped by the bartender to check IDs with the same “I had to do the math. You practically just turned 21” joke. Most of us had our 21st birthdays here within the same 2 months. Milly obviously made her own 3 layer cake and brought it. The never-ending conversation with the bartender is just the perfect duration to grab the attention of the old man who is there every time we go. He smiles and laughs as we all impatiently wait at the table for our friend to join us. Not at the tables by the bocce court though, unless it is absolutely necessary. The unpredictable drips from the ceiling barely miss your glass, bringing your attention to what some people would deem, the wear and tear of Floyd. Like the hole in the couch that has swallowed 3 of Nick’s rings. Or the retired heating pipes that run down the middle of the bar. Our favorite bartender is the old guy with the long white beard that hits the neckline of his t-shirt. He always gives me a smile when I ask if he can make a Shirley Temple. The lady with black-framed glasses and red hair gives me a cold hard no. She is a bitch and always acts like we already spilled a drink when we walked through the door. She prays behind the counter that our IDs are fake and she can get rid of us once and for all. Milly gets a Guinness. Betsy has her flask and a Sprite. The boys switch it up. Some get beers, some get tequila sodas, and then there is the one vodka cranberry that I won’t put on the spot. I get a Diet Coke that unsurprisingly tastes like the last four drinks that passed through the soda pump. I get it every time. The house tequila is a spitting image of rubbing alcohol. They don’t even have grenadine but they have paper straws.


The Lavender 69

The shy one I gave all my math homework answers tells me about his new job. The host of all the high school parties complains that he has to wake up at 5 am tomorrow to go to the Hamptons to surf. The guy who prayed for a girlfriend all four years proudly boasts about the love of his life, whom we were introduced to a couple of weeks prior, on the same couch. She didn’t like “the vibe” so we reluctantly had to switch bars. The guy I sat with under the ping pong table on New Year’s Eve 2018 asks me to validate a text draft to a prospective love interest. He discreetly passes the phone to me under the table so no one notices. Especially Nick, who would make fun of his choice of messenger, Snapchat.

There is always a point in the night where something like Jesse clapping at a couple making out at the bar can happen. The guy turns around and flips him off. Or Betsy enthusiastically explaining the directions for UNO and everyone playing along like they don’t know what the +4 card means. The cards feel like someone chewed on the corners. Or Aja’s parents coming in for my 21st birthday and taking a shot with me. We talk about the desperate need for Aja to shave off the beard he grew post-graduation. Or a stranger screaming at us, with the accusation that Sam skipped them in line for bocce. He did but we plead the fifth.

The reason we come back is debated. It could be the convenience. Or maybe it is the security that there is always going to be a spot for us even on a Friday night. The drink prices could be worse. The bathrooms are surprisingly clean and there are always paper towels. We all know how to get there and we can all walk each other to the door of our houses, the subway, or the Citi bike dock. It doesn’t really matter and we don’t talk about it. It is just where we end up. Sometimes it feels like we skipped a chapter. Sometimes it feels more like we lost many, many pages. Thank you, Floyd, for giving us back our stolen time.

Wesleyan University 70

Would your love set me down the street to wander? after Uri Rosenshine’s “Vivid Partitions” Mia Alexander


You lit two cigarettes in succession & wedged one between my lips. I spent the rest of the day smoking your Camels on a spotted beach towel, smoothing the deckled edges of your dog-eared Jane Eyre between forefinger & thumb.

On the drive back into the city you’d pass me another & forbid me from changing the station. I’d blow smoke out the cracked window, curling & dissipating in time to the bebop thudding in my ears.


I spend six days alone with my sister in New York, light a spliff & visit hallowed grounds; our old high school on 89th & Lex, the white twists of the Guggenheim. I fall in love again with Jenny Holzer. Your favorite.

I visit the sculpture garden in Midtown where we ran into a Beatle. Uptown the barefooted lady still pounds pavement at Strawberry Fields. Her cracked, weary feet circle the church my Jewish father took me to after he decided I needed some morals whacked into me.

The sort of love I practiced then was more focused, all-consuming. I look at her asleep & realize I can’t remember your middle name, the delicate sound your fingers made pressed against piano ivory. I’ve never heard the whistle of her breath against flute-grenadilla.

Your voice is a zen kōan, removed only through meditation. A broken mirror never reflects again; fallen flowers never go back to old branches.

At night, I’ll fall asleep in her twin bed, our spines kissed together. Maybe I’ll slip my hand into hers.

71 3.
The Lavender

Wesleyan University

Caroline Lamoureux

The Lavender


And so it begins. The head thumping wake-up. One too many shots, one too many hours late. Gin and Tonics out of wine glasses for the friends who arrive before the party’s start. Packs of Pabst Light sitting empty at the extremities. Old faces arrive with new masks. Hair cut, arms inked. Those who return from overseas have new complexes to nurse: places traveled, lovers taken. The game is to make it known without being outed as cliché, without being identified as fraudulent.

I PROMISE. These things really did happen to me. ALL THAT AND MORE. Screams from within a brain cavity punctuated by fleeting bits of foreign language. The seasoned vets, those who made their return the year prior, know the condition well after a year of recovery (some more than others). To them, stories of far away lands are lost. For their affliction at present is unchecked nostalgia, invasive angst. A condition that spreads amongst them like a stomach flu. Bile in toilet bowls reminding them that selling out is always an option. That corporate drudgery will become them. That Plato has no purchase power in the real world.

They will continue to meet their porcelain maker time and time again. Always believing that their suffering will mark a decisive end to their behavior. But herd immunity is not achievable in this demographic. Contagion is constant and symptoms severe. In periods of remission they convene over tree stumps and affirm a tenuous social order, just as Rousseau imagined. Liberal arts utopia only an axe-throw away.


Wesleyan University

Posterity Triptych:



It’s about to rain. August coffee and warped chocolate–the onset of expiration. Summer loving and leaving. Give me bug bites, radio psychosis, a first tattoo. Give me drunkenly rolled joints and everything else. I’m learning how to hold on while letting go. I don’t know what I deserve. I’ve repented. I’m repenting.


I’m starting to love stupid. Poetry that misses its point, too many commas–if this line goes forever I won’t need to end it. I can make without meaning, without meaning it. Can I mean something without making meaningful? Poetry doesn’t care about what matters and it can go on and on because we can’t help ourselves.


Sometimes I feel like I waste too much space in this journal. Sometimes I get this undeniable feeling that I’m the human incarnation of a roomba.

Sometimes I have to hold my cheeks to get a sentence out. Sometimes I’m the funniest person ever, probably.


The Lavender


I’m always unsettled by people moving and because it’s such a departure into a new time where nothing can ever look the same + it’s like familiar is still temporary + we are only here by chance + the future will familiarize itself in a place somebody still needs to say goodbye to*

9/6/22: Resolve today I will not look at this poem until it’s finished bare skin today I will pluck every feather from this poem in oil today I will douse myself until I can’t touch my own skin barren today I will finish this poem and drown it anointed


Wesleyan University 76

9/13/22: cicada

just how close can I listen/ I can feel the cicadas/ like trimming nails/ like collecting chalk dust/ like pulling hair out in clumps/ like bruises you claim not to remember/ like cicadas/ disembodied bodies which cling/ as if attached still/ as if this cicada was still a cicada/ as if the seasons/ never changed/ and it will never rain again/ the dust/ never dies it just/ settles/ like sickness/ who died?/ who never comes back?/ exoskeletal memorial like/ graffiti next to train tracks/ WHO WAS HERE!*/ we were/ I was/ you are/ they fly like drunks/ leave themselves everywhere/ memorialized/ discarded like/ as if/ the dead don’t speak/ in patterns/ in seasons/ cicadas can’t die they can only/ live again/ drunk and sloppy/ they make listening endemic/ with me/ I’m here/ undead and bodied and on my way out

12/4/20: thinking abt the fact that somebody i met randomly on the street who came up to me on a one wheeled electric skateboard told me i looked like a psychology major

2/17/22: “nah nah there’s definitely a correlation with how high you jump and how rich you are” overheard at usdan

2/23/22: white boys will explain kanye as if ppl haven’t met another white boy before

1/10/23: all men who have songs on the radio are pussies

5/29/23 i’ve moved out of a room here three times and every time it feels more painful


The Lavender

i cover my room in everything and i have so many people over and that is one thing that has been the same each year i think it’s that this feels like the same feeling i’ve felt before deep dread like the kind that makes you feel the weight of ur stomach but also a kind of peace, a lightness in ur shoulders just because somehow time has passed and ur here right now and time is still going and u need to get out or the university will get mad so u can’t really dwell and u realize this is all a bunch of cycles that somehow repeat themselves while fragmenting and forgetting time has passed in this unsettling way because there is always something next to do there’s always a deadline but it’s so beautiful to take down the many papers i’ve stuck on my wall it’s so disturbing to look up and see my mirror is so cloudy and then realize it’s because it’s the eggshell wall and my mirror is in storage it’s so wrong to lock my door because i never do it and because it will never be my room again and i’m gone i’ve done this three times now and every time i take the same sign down last

the sign i took from the common room in my freshman year room that says “COVID CAPACITY: 3” it took me so long today to start dismantling my walls it was so hard to do it i hated it i can’t dwell on it soon i will have new walls to make mine and then it will all be over and i will graduate May 26th and i will be gone


Wesleyan University 78

I am 21 and Naya

Don’t like my teeth. Wish I didn’t leave my lips parted sometimes because you can see the crooked incisor I earned not wearing my retainer. Fly so much less than I used to and get more scared every time, cried into Kristina’s shoulder climbing into some foreign sky. Cry a lot less in general and sweat a lot more. Ceaselessly and tantalizingly aware of my power to fuck up my life on a whim: press my palms to the hot-oiled pan, slam the door hard on a thin bone, go missing. Hunger for kissing the way my limbs hunger for a stretch in the morning. Mostly go on dating apps for attention. Haven’t written fanfiction in some years. Still kind of want to. Went sledding for the first time just this year, felt a thread of me get caught at the top of the hill and all of me unspooling joyfully as I flew down, as we hit something and Madi and I tumbled over ice, clutching each other. Love having bruises and little scrapes, knowing I’ve come into contact with the world. Called my grandpa last week after he emailed a few times asking what books he should leave me when he dies. Have lost one language and taken another and still don’t speak my mother tongue. Decided recently that when I am in that fated plane crash, I will allow the other passengers to feed off my body when I freeze to death. Feel weirder than everybody or tragically banal and never anything in between. Have never been in love or loved. Think sometimes I’m okay alone because my friends inspire such tenderness in me it leaks from my heart — like when, half-awake beside me on a frigid morning, Evelyn tucked the blankets around my shoulders though I hadn’t said aloud I was cold, or when I couldn’t kill that beetle in my room and Zoe let me sleep with her and pressed her forearm to my back while she nodded off, unafraid to touch me. Am a flirty drunk until I’m a sad drunk, and the transition is not elegant. Enjoy, at last, the sound of my own pitchy laugh in videos.

The Lavender

Want to cut my hair shorter just so I’m not on my deathbed one day thinking Well, I’ve had the same hairstyle for eighty years. Worry I’ll be ugly without bangs. Want to cut my hair shorter because I want to be like Audrey Hepburn, because of course I do, I’ve never wanted to be anything more than an idea, already mummified and untouchable, only Audrey Hepburn probably never had scabs from poppers under her nose. Know my daughter will never believe I was this girl. Remember vividly that lunch in freshman year of high school after we learned in health class that one in four girls gets sexually assaulted, how I looked around at my friends knowing I was the only one who made jokes about sucking dick, the only one who’d started masturbating, the only one who’d begun to want, how I knew already that I would be punished and it would be me. Picture myself saying to my therapist, I don’t really think about it anymore. Stopped going to therapy after I had to file the insurance claims and saw how much it cost my parents. Got told by a professor last week that I should go to therapy for my self-esteem. Consider myself kind of a narcissist. Look at myself in the mirror a lot, gazing into my own eyes. Visit my own Instagram page more than anybody else’s. Feel some days like a glow stick, designed to snap. Notice acutely now, after a long night, the delicious ache of being here: the heavy fatigue in my legs, the sour candy feeling in my cheeks from smiling too much. Wonder often which little indulgence on the laundry list of my mother’s warnings — processed foods, vodka cranberries, staying up, sitting down, sleeping in — is sowing the seed of my eventual disease and death. Leaving the country soon. Might be addicted to leaving countries even though it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. Can name, though I couldn’t once, the people I know I will see a couple times a year forever. Look for my own freckles, like the one on my neck, the one on my knee, the one low on my back, in case nobody else ever looks. Like finding them. Talk too much. Make jokes compulsively like I’m throwing up.


Wesleyan University

80 Can’t write poetry anymore, feel calcified even at this small age against its dream-logic, can only think in fragmented prose like this. Write not-poems about my friends and then don’t show them in case they get scared I love them too much. In the habit of pointing out beautiful things to myself — wind pulling a shower of yellow leaves down from a tree, clouds low over a field of luminous green, snowflakes billowing this way and that like schools of fish — and reciting in my head, Good thing I’ve never killed myself. Didn’t need a therapist to teach me that one. Will die if I’m not something great, or if I am. Don’t really have a choice. Don’t want to die. Will invent ghosts so I can be the first, so I can stay here a little longer, just a little longer.

The Lavender

Wesleyan University

Best of luck to the incoming class of 2028.... You’ll need it!

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