The Lavender Issue 11: Crossroads

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ii The Route 9 Literary Collective presents... The Lavender Issue XI: Crossroads Wesleyan’s prose, poetry, and art magazine Spring 2024 • @route9wes The Lavender

About Us

The Lavender is Wesleyan’s student-run poetry, prose, and art magazine that publishes twice a semester. The literary magazine is run under the Route 9 Literary Collective, which also publishes chapbooks, social justice pamphlets, and a once-a-year anthology of writing from Wesleyan faculty, staff, and students, along with the work of Middletown Residents.

Why Route 9?

Route 9 is the road that connects Middletown to the rest of Connecticut. It is the central artery of movement that every Wesleyan student, faculty, staff member, and Middletown resident has driven on. It connects us and moves us forward. Learn more at!

Issue XI: Crossroads

The Lavender Team

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

Prose Editor: Eli Hoag

Design Editors: Sonia Menken and Kyle Reims

Copy Editors: Ben Gertner and Ben Goodman

Assistant Poetry Editor: Mel Cort

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: Reese Chahal

Logo Design: Leo Egger

Special thanks to the heroes at 54 Home Ave., Oliver Egger, Merve Emre, Ryan Launder, Alpha Delta Phi, The Shapiro Writing Center, The Wesleyan English Department, the SBC, Young’s Printing, and all of the dear friends who make this magazine possible.

The Lavender

Letter from the Editors

Dear Reader,

Hello from your managing editors. We are stepping out from behind the scenes to the front pages of the magazine. What joy!

Now, we find ourselves at a crossroads. There are so many people for us to thank for making this issue possible, and we don’t know where to begin.

Oh man, should we start by thanking our beloved poetry editor, Mia Alexander, who you may recognize as a winner of the 2024 CT poetry circuit? Or maybe with Mel Cort, whose constant presence on the spreadsheet really lights a fire under our asses.

Or perhaps we should start with our fantastic prose editor, Eli Hoag, a true professional and genius writer.

Of course, we could always start by shouting out the design team, Sonia Menken and Kyle Reims, for making this issue one of the most beautiful we’ve ever done.

Obviously, we have to mention our copy editors, the Bens. Each Ben has outdone the other, and the competition to be Ben No.1 is really heating up. Without their hard work, the issue would be made illegible by grammatical errors.

Our protegees and assistant managing editors, Jane Weitz and Elva Leth, have also done a truly incredible job. Almost too incredible…stop making us look bad!

OMG! We have to thank our dynamic duo of editors-in-chief-elect, Georgia Groome and Ella Spitz. They are some of the most dedicated, efficient, and funny people we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Not to mention, they bleed Lavender purple.

Okay, okay, time to stop playing around and thank the girl who makes the Lavender go round, Imogen Shearmur. As our kick-ass editor-in-chief, Immi cashes checks, keeps us in check, and checks all the boxes for an amazing editor. We love you immensely, Immi, thank you for all that you do.

So many options! Well, whatever path we decide, we’re glad you chose one that led you to this issue. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it!

With love from the crossroads,

Alex & Sammi Managing Editors

Issue XI: Crossroads
vi Drag Race by Ben Gertner 2 Mia Alexander 3 Fixing the Flat by Liv Ristaino 4 Eleonor Andersson 4-5 pinkalicious by Michaela Somers 5 Spoon for Nina by Bella Rosenblatt 6-7 Eleonor Andersson 8 Your Body Shakes Alone by Priya Devavaram 9 Tongue, Dream (prosthetic groups) by Jerron Chan 10 “Saratosa Elegy” by Spenderiferous Thedarcy 11 Candlelight by Eli Susman 12 Mia Alexander 12-13 What of Knit by Eli Hoag 14-15 Landed by Stecky 16 Gin and Tonic Talking by Sylvia Maxwell 17-18 Cris Rodriguez 18 toothache by Sarran Spiegel 19-21 Sammi Hager 21 The Night by Bennett Gottesman 22-23 Table of Contents The Lavender
vii Walking across the pond by Nettie Hitt 24 “vbs childcare for the internet generation” by Kai Paik 25-26 Kyle Reims 26 disassociating phone by Mikail Haroon 27-29 Souvenir by Elva Lindeburg Leth 30 Sunday Morning, 9 A.M. by Caelan Desmond 31 Eleonor Andersson 31 I-91 South by Noa Koffman-Adsit 32-33 Cris Rodriguez 34 Strangers in my living room by Sophia Meloni 35-37 November, 2023 by Mia Alexander 38 Zucchini by Sonia Menken 39 Eleonor Andersson 40-41 Issue XI: Crossroads

Drag Race

you want to go to a beach in Brooklyn known for trash and used needles that litter the sand like broken skeets and cut your shoes and prick your feet

so we drive out during study hall after I borrowed Mom’s Outback she left at work, keys in glovebox and we don’t tell a single soul

we get to Sheepshead Bay and take our photos and steal our garbage only to get right back in the car to beat rush hour

but the GPS isn’t working so we pull into an abandoned carpark with no one around to find our homes on our phones when

a car pulls up, tinted windows but we are tough as shit, so we stay and the glass rolls down and there are two children driving

twelve and eight probably they speak only Spanish you somehow understand and reply and they pull away to the far end

you follow, settling beside them and idling, you turn to me and say that they challenged us to a race and you floor it

The Lavender
The Lavender Mia Alexander

Fixing the Flat Liv Ristaino

August of ’79, I road-tripped down to South Carolina to drop Eve off at University. She threw her two bags in the trunk, I filled up the tank, and we hit the road.

Four hours in, we were standing next to my broken-down car, stuck in the smack-dab middle of nowhere, Maryland. There wasn’t a trace of civilization there, only fields of grass and wildflowers.

Stepping out of my beat-up Pinto, Eve did what Eve always did— She climbed to the top of the car and draped her body across the warm metal roof.

Her long, honey hair spilled down the side, reaching the bottom of the window. The falling sun cast a golden hue against her cheeks and turned her eyes into caramel.

She asked me if I could try to fix the flat tire, and I obliged like an over-eager puppy.

I army-crawled under that tiny car and dirtied my favorite dress, knowing damn well I didn’t have a spare tire.

I debated if I should tell her that I forgot to put in a spare before we left or to just enjoy the time while we had it.

But when she turned to look at me, my throat clenched with thoughts of the quiet ride home.

I asked her to walk around for a bit and wait for someone to drive by

She smiled that gentle smile of hers and said it was okay, but her eyes said otherwise. I’ve never felt worse.

I made a daisy chain of wildflowers for her that afternoon and tied it around her wrist,

knowing the flowers wouldn’t last.

But still, I tied that bracelet as tight as I could.

Issue XI: Crossroads


every now and then i am brought to my knees by the smell of my sister’s perfume.

often, i feel four again, learning how to be contained; to say thank you for it.

when the rocks of hot pavement drew blood from my palms; the rips in the pink tights i wore.

or a brush in my hair, pulling, pulling; curls become knots, taut with shame.

i think at my core i am nothing but a soft thing— that my eyes are glazed plastic buttons, my heart sewn of fabric,

how i want to be loved to shreds, to tatters.

Eleonor Andersson

Spoon for Nina

My aunt Nina has one arm. Nina is an artist and my dad’s sister and she smells like smoke and is a really good cook. When she wears long-sleeved shirts the left sleeve hangs down, drooping to her waist. I didn’t ever know two-armed Nina because she lost one in a car accident and that was before my mom had me.

I live on nineteenth street, three floors above Nina. Her apartment has a Wii and a big computer with Pinterest always open and a souvenir spoon collection. Every time we go somewhere new we get a spoon for Nina because she collects them and displays them on a shelf and every time I go over I make sure to see if there are any new spoons.

There are art supplies everywhere in Nina’s apartment. On the floor and on the walls and in the kitchen and in the bathroom and seeping oozing gooing out of the ceiling. Her apartment feels alive, like it is taking deep breaths in and deep breaths out and the roof could cave in if there was any more stuff but still there always ends up being more stuff, and still her apartment feels alive.

She has a dog named Squid who bit me when I was five and now I am scared of dogs. There are wee-wee pads all over the apartment in between piles of art supplies because Squid pees everywhere. The apartment is small and her boyfriend and various roommates live here too, shuffling in and out, but I’ve never met any of them. Maybe they don’t want to be around all of Nina’s stuff.

Nina teaches me how to embroider and sew little pillows with stuffing inside and paint fun things and she lets me play with her absurdly large collection of drugstore makeup. She was planning on moving to Los Angeles to be a makeup artist before she lost her arm. She makes so many things with only one arm.

Issue XI: Crossroads

I tell Nina that I like to sing and that I want to take lessons and she tells me that I shouldn’t bother because everyone wants to be a singer when they’re my age and then they will find out they’re bad at it and stop. I tell my dad that and he says don’t listen to Nina. I don’t listen to my dad and I still listen to Nina.

That was one of the first times Nina crawled under my skin and loitered there for a while until I spat her out.

Mom tells me that when she met Dad, Nina was only fifteen and when she visited Dad’s family in Providence Nina would sit in the backyard of the house near Thayer Street and smoke cigarettes in her grungy clothes and her thick eye makeup. That’s how Mom describes her. And she would smoke so much and she would blow the smoke out in front of her parents because she didn’t care. That’s how I imagine her.

And Grandma smoked too and when Grandma died Grandpa said he couldn’t be around Nina because Nina reminded him too much of Grandma.

When I am ten I tell Nina that she has to quit smoking by the time I next see her. And she does. She quits smoking. And when I am eleven I tell people hey remember when Nina quit smoking because of me? And no one believes me and they all say well, that’s not really why. And I say no, I told her she had to and so she did because Nina and I are great friends and she cares about me a lot.

Now I am twenty and Nina has crawled under my skin so many times. And now I am twenty and we don’t get spoons for Nina anymore.

7 The Lavender
Eleonor Andersson

Your Body Shakes Alone

When I was nine, I discovered death. If I knew it before, I had not held it.

My body turned inside out at the idea of an absolute unknown of paradise or loneliness or both

No time, no heartbreak, no elders, no fruit, no sun or maybe everything, and joy too.

My mother held me, lied too, said you have so much more left My father watched, unable to make eye contact with the deep cavern breaking open the living room floor

When my dad’s mother died, all I remember is seeing my dad shake his head, over and over again shake, shake, shake.

Rhythm. Like a beating heart. A pulsing ghost.

Issue XI: Crossroads

Tongue, Dream (prosthetic groups)

in the year of lone stars, I dreamt of you. more specifically, your tongue. folding. all the worlds and words and woes, like the quaternary chained like phosphorus, phosphorylating undulating emancipating, swallowing left of what the bright couldn’t cut, of what the Greek couldn’t void, of cold phlegm and mutiny spit.

O Nish, O Nothing, I heeded hissing cursive letters of Hokkaido heckles, tasting the Cicada buzz sharp and serpent, with many tombs to place, and no bodies to fill. how it bleeds she feels, on the yves stained alamedas, lukewarm and warm and warmer, one after another, painted in the hymns of xenon lights and acids of singing ulcers, tongueing all that the cynic reject, rejecting all that follows before her.

The Lavender


Spenderiferous Thedarcy

On the final night of my life

When I could have been dancing I will be extracting meaning from and Assigning these lost feelings to and Grasping for closure in the

Short afternoons where you did nothing in particular and I adored you for it and the Long afternoons where you talked at length about modern phallic architecture and I loved you a little less Gently creased photographs with red-ink dates scribbled in the corners

Rolled-up Paramore posters that you left in my room

Stacked flat on the shelf like bodies in the morgue And the plastic Venice keychain you bought for way too much In Florida.

listening to the alligators chirp along the coastline as we sped past shark-tooth shacks and cheap Italian food and ads for condos we would never buy on your four-wheeler with all the windows down your opaline eyes were glazing over but I didn’t mind a blissful being of portrait apathy and the shards on the floor glistened like brown-glass diamonds.

i could almost believe you were a perfect person through eyes divorced from what any could see only listening to you through the beating of my heart echoing against the hollow cavity of yours as we carried on passing by the duplex where Cat grew up. An

eternity; and I dreamed I was Jack and you were Rose but the moment grew bitter by the second and you melted away in my arms

you were gone but your shell drove us home leaving behind the sunset with a little more distance between our seats while your empty soul filled up with water sinking into the bay

Issue XI: Crossroads


The first night of Shiva a man tells my dad to make a new relationship with my grandpa.

I don’t see how you go on with a dead man.

I shove gifted babka into my mouth and watch his candle begin to wane.

The last night of Shiva grandma says in my ear he’d be proud that I buried him.

I did not shovel and sweat through his tight Burberry shirt to make him proud.

These acts comfort only those living.

The Lavender
Mia Alexander

What of knit

Eli Hoag

At home during fits of boredom, I find myself plumbing through drawers and assorted boxes of objects that tell the history of my family—old handkerchiefs, glasses fitting a lost trend, a fake ID, a Mickey Mouse watch. Recently, I came upon a tagless knit sweater. Gram, my great-grandmother, had made it for my mother. At first look, I was appalled by its outdated Velveeta hue. But still, I put it on. The sleeves fell too short and the collar sat high; its elaborate stitch, which dove and crossed and twisted, stretched tight over my frame. The successful fitting I sought failed.

To my mother she was called Gram. Gram was the mother of my mother’s mother.

My mother rarely lets out how Gram made her feel. Gram taught her to sew, to knit, to play cards, to dance. After long games of double solitaire, they would dance the old one-two of Lawrence Welk’s “The Moon is a Silver Dollar.” Then they laughed and spun out until they could spin no more. In only gestures and these tiny stories, I see what Gram meant to my mother. For a time, she was my mother’s best friend.

In Aran tradition, of the western coast of Ireland, stitch patterns marked one’s clan affiliation. Like a family crest burned into a shield’s face, these knits were worn like symbols of pride. Men and women wore their familial identity. If a body were found on the moors or washed ashore, it would be returned. A pattern, like a dialect, evolved over generations, weaving together ancestral stories. Not unlike a wedding dress being passed on to a child, mothers would teach their patterns to children, connecting the histories of generations.

Lulu, my grandmother, learned to knit from Gram. Listening to my mother speak, I hear a similar voice to Lulu. One that hides those cracked edges of emotion and only speaks of what.

14 Issue
XI: Crossroads



That lineage of women rarely talk about their lives. A trait among all of them, taught to each other. It’s an impenetrable flavor of love. When together, all I desire are words that are left unsaid. I find it hard loving someone whose past I know so little of. Loving my Lulu is like a slow-burning ember; this is a relationship that stings and soothes.

One tender night, I showed Lulu that tagless sweater, the one I found. I spoke of Gram, and her voice broke. She looked up, away, letting gravity pull back her tears. Behind her silence was sorrow. Lulu longed for the woman she loved so dearly. The person who understood her and cared and loved her the way she felt most familiar.

I asked Lulu what Gram was like. She responded: Gram didn’t speak much about her life. She was reserved. Like I’m blinded, Gram, to me, only exists as blurred colors. She had the same stiff sensibility that Lulu carries, as does my mother, as do I. Gram disclosed her spirit it seemed, not through stories of her past, but through those gentle gestures.

When my mother was eight months pregnant with my older sister, Gram fell ill and was admitted to the hospital. A blue sweater no bigger than a plate, which Gram made, was left for my sister unfinished. Lulu sat next to Gram’s hospital bed as she slept, adding the final stitches to that baby sweater. She finished it and held it up in front of Gram’s sleeping body. Look mom, it’s done, she said. Despite her shut eyes, Lulu believes Gram knew.

Gram passed that night.

Lulu thinks that sweater for my unborn sister was her unfinished business, the only way to rest easy. When alone or in a shroud of darkness, Lulu often prays to Gram, asking for guidance and hope.

The stitch of that tagless Velveeta sweater, the one I found, carries within it that long lineage of silent women. I wear it. When nights are cold and hollow, I put it on to feel my mother’s frame. Its contours and folds gesture toward my mother, grandmother, Lulu, and great-grandmother, Gram, whom I’ve never known or touched, yet feel so deeply within. Although they never speak of the past, I carry with me their untold histories.


Landed Stecky

Tonight the stars were in the sand, rather, they were washed by the ocean, rather, they were landed. I don’t believe in angels or superstitions— rather, I don’t believe in my eyes, rather, I don’t trust close miracles; that stars return to the sea, that sparkling and flickering are diagnostic terms, unstable and pulsating, that stars don’t care about reflection, why god cannot speak back—return to don’t care, I chose this phrase recklessly, rather, the metric of caring is unfathomable, rather, the metric is useless in physics, rather, I am holding stars right now, rather, the ocean takes and leaves bits of sky, rather, the ocean holds the sky, scatters stars over sand, over my bare feet, my palms, rather, my skin, myself, sticky like static— tonight, in the still-born moon.

Issue XI: Crossroads

The Lavender Gin and Tonic Talking

The bar was red. I was so yellow. I wore Sydney’s favorite jean skirt and a little bra top with a bird in my stomach. This time, like every other time, it took the span of three conversations to get the bartender’s attention. I remember going safe with a gin and tonic. I was two pals safe and almost one drink bold to talk to her sexy. So of course I had to hear your name at the door and, subsequently, come tumbling down.

It had been six months of intermittent laughter spewed with misery. I had been flailing in the wake of switching antidepressants and hearing about your new girlfriend. I would clutch every snippet I heard about you close like a purse and pry my fingers back from asking how you were doing. And then you had the audacity to show up to my new love interest’s birthday party. And I almost had the audacity to step on her shoulders to see you eye to eye.

But I kept cool, pressing my side into the metal bar frame, ferociously slurping down my $17 G&T. I’m really so cool. I knew I’d have to face you so I brought my friends out for a smoke. I knew you’d be schmoozing up the most baddie-esque belle you could find. I knew I’d want to feel sorry for her, but that would be partially untrue. So I had my smoke and sprung up from the bench when it felt time to approach you.

The expression on your face gave me a cunning rush of confidence, I’ll admit. Could you see I was doing well? Could you see I was laughing at you now? Could you see I was here to bag the girl who rejected you a couple of years back? (I didn’t know this at the time, but I wish I did). I asked if you were depressed. I pried open every can of worms. I wanted to see you unravel at my feet the way I had unraveled on my bedroom pillow when you told me you met someone new.

Alas, you stayed handsome you. You gave me a few American Spirits which made up for your Brooklyn ghost. You hugged me really tight, and you were golden like the first time. But this wasn’t the first time.


I had other business to attend to and you had yours. That was the last time I saw you.

Now I sit sipping from a glass of red, poured by your dad, and another of yellow, a white negroni fixed by your brother. I laugh, from your seat at the table, ignoring the bitter knot of knowing you’d appreciate my jokes the most. Regardless, I’m truly doing well now. Your family thinks you turned me gay. Maybe one day we can co-parent and read Harry Potter to our weird children.

Issue XI: Crossroads
Cris Rodriguez


I go to the doctor and I tell her my mouth hurts. she takes a peek, says, it looks like you have a cavity. you should go to the dentist.

I go to the dentist and I tell him I have a cavity. he pokes around, says, it looks like it runs deeper than that. you should go to an oral surgeon.

I go to the oral surgeon and I tell them the cavity runs deep. they peer inside, say, this looks unnatural. you should go to the psychic a block over.

I go to the psychic a block over and I tell him the cavity runs deep and is unnatural. he reads my palm, says, something dark stirs within you. you should go to my lighting guy.

I go to his lighting guy and I tell her the cavity runs deep and is unnatural and something dark stirs within me. she puts a lightbulb on my tongue, says, you bit down on the glass. you should go to the ER.

I go to the ER and I tell them the cavity runs deep and is unnatural and something dark stirs within me and I bit down on the glass, only I bit down on the glass so the words are blood in my mouth, on my chin, dripping down my front, pooling at my feet. they make me open wide, say, horrific. someone get a doctor. STAT.

The Lavender

Issue XI: Crossroads

they get me a doctor and I tell her (as I lay on the table) the cavity runs deep and is unnatural and something dark stirs within me and I bit down on the glass and it’s horrific, only my mouth is propped open so it’s all blood gurgling in my throat, threatening to choke me. she plucks out the shards of glass, says, oh, geez, we should check if you swallowed any. let’s get an x-ray.

I get an x-ray and I tell it the cavity runs deep and is unnatural and something dark stirs within me and I bit down on the glass and it’s horrific and I might’ve swallowed some, only it doesn’t hear and I probably didn’t speak it, my mouth being full of gauze and the rest of me high out of my mind.

it scans my innards, says, you sure swallowed something. get a surgeon on this.

I get a surgeon on this and I tell him the cavity runs deep and is unnatural and something dark stirs within me and I bit down on the glass and it’s horrific and I might’ve swallowed some and I sure swallowed something, only I’m speaking through the laughing gas and my lips are slugs. he cuts me open, says, dear god. there’s a black hole in h-

he slides sideways into the pit of my stomach. everything does.

his assistant, his scalpel, my teary-eyed mother, the homeless couple outside begging for change, every president, the UN, the kids playing soccer with a can in the street, the dog mewling in the empty lot, the world.


only the stars are around to hear.


I tell the stars the cavity runs deep and is unnatural and something dark stirs within me and I bit down on the glass and it’s horrific and I might’ve swallowed some and I sure swallowed something and help. they blink wildly, swooning through the sky, winking.

they slide in too, slow, incandescent fingers reaching for one last caress of life.

I lay still, winking help and I sure swallowed something and I might’ve swallowed some and it’s horrific and I bit down on the glass and something dark stirs within me and it’s unnatural and the cavity runs deep.

I stare out.

nothing stares back.

slipping sideways, I devour myself, joining everything on the other side.

my mouth aches the whole way down.

The Lavender Sammi Hager

The Night

Most of everything I’ve written has been about you. Each word lies in tender reference or cold opposition to your faults and perfections, and all I’ve known for four years has been in comparison to your beauty. I’ve existed solely around and through you. And now, after becoming myself, after everything that has been for me, I stand on the precipice of a final goodbye.

I read your letter yesterday. You’d sent it, a simple note for a lover, before any of this. I cried for each line of yours, more full of love than I ever thought possible. I asked myself not only why but how? How could I ever consider leaving behind such passion? Your love for me, strong enough to obliterate every gargantuan adjective and sea-parting allusion, is ineffable. And now, today, I risk never feeling such love again. I call myself intelligent, an intellectual. I try to write in twisted forms with clever references. Yet, when faced with an affection, honest and sweet, that almost everyone I know can only attain in their most absurd fantasies, I turn. Is it idiocy? Masochism?

The Lavender

I always knew that the first step of my self destruction would be to jettison everyone that could convince me to stop. But now, as I appear to begin this end and tear myself away, I’m far from alone; for I’ve pulled together everyone I have. They’re holding me tight now as I lay, head buried in a shag carpet, reliving the horrors and glories of being alive with you by my side. And I know too, and for certain now, that I am alive, that I plan to keep it that way, and from these premises that if I leave it won’t be into nothingness.

And the singers in my ears keep singing. They’ve all learned their own ways to be alone. The best ones have learned to be with others. But they can’t really help me now; they can only console. They never taught me what it is to intertwine one’s being with another. And though they’ve sung endlessly of the pain to come, they’ve never revealed just how I may exist on my own.

But I have existed on my own for months now. I can see once again through my own eyes. And now, as myself, looking upon you, what was once so solid is slipping, and my neck won’t let me turn away. I can’t ignore it anymore. So I’ll go on. I’ll lay my head elsewhere and write something new. I’ll tell you goodnight for the many-thousandth time and mean it, but never know if the night truly was so good.

Issue XI: Crossroads

Walking across the pond

An inch of ice can hold a horse my father says my grandfather said. ‘Today there’s over two.’

My father shuffles across and jumps, one two three times with no crack.

I follow, stamping out grasses, choked by white, unclear if each crunch means cracking ice somewhere beneath land gives way to water (water becomes land too) but it’s impossible to tell.

Rubbing the snow off I peer into the pond, its trapped bubbles and long fractures, but he reassures me that these are not fissures, but ice freezing and expanding.

The Lavender
“vbs childcare for the internet generation”

God is an iceberg: on the first level god is passing by but never passing through and exasperating ties to Those you never knew and These you left behind in roaring gasps and heaving ash throes borne twixt churl and chaser; (1. in my first year a callowbacked cricket won summa cum laude and the whole class applauded)

God is an ice worm: on the second level god is Crowing and never more Knowing than assigned regurgitating the just and adjusting the surgent who never let one little lambast cross the path of goodwill, crying foul for your calculated benefit; (2. if you ever were a stoner than you ever were a stoner then you ever were a chark to be pebbled upon the rucked floor)

God is a nice warm malted coffee on the barefoot linoleum: on the third level god runs polygons around the lightshade wall exchanging for penny and parcel the fruits of idolatry (3. crassity is a function of being so I spat on the grave of the man who brought me doodle bugs in the morning)

God is a Watching All behind golden curtains with absolvent grace: on the fourth level god wreaks caution on the seeing I and praises You with bathshebic malintent, carousing amongst shorebeat lot ripe for trinken, at the saltstone carousel (4. gossamer the sheaves of whispering beans, and plural the souls that would bind them)

Issue XI: Crossroads

oh my God please shut the fuck up: on the fifth level god roils your wretched from kitschnik dreams to participate in the electoral college peddling his break-if-you-like to drudgery ravers two layers deep; (5. if we all ran the cold faucets at the same time we could probably stop global warming)

God is wider than the widest ocean and taller than the tallest mountain (alleluia!): on the sixth level god calves her oblation to the currents that be, geomantic witness weary of wonder adrift in this guileless world. (6. he read carroll once and now i am as impressionable as i look)

The Lavender Kyle Reims

disassociating phone

i lost and found my phone on a bar crawl in dc. it was coated in a sticky puddle of champagne and cheap tequila. since then, my phone disintegrated into 2-3 day long reboot cycles, until one day in vermont it never returned.


i am awoken to the very real desire to throw up. i’m in vermont in my calvins. the familiar chest-tightening nausea crashes into me without a warning. a perpetually tweaked-out eli wrestles his demons above me, grounded by a bright red backpack filled with ski boots. later, i would find him rigid, sardined within the salty sheets of the twin bed. his hunter eyes were completely open despite sleeping, and his body was decorated by formal attire, tie, blazer, puffer and all.

i wake up to no phone. no notifications, nothing useless to see on instagram. there are no tweets dissecting gypsy rose’s sex life. there are no threads on how fucking garbage kid cudi’s music has gotten.1 there is no strange hyperromanticization of 2016.2 with an average screen time of about 9 hours daily, i was surprised at how i felt. there was no dread. only lightness. all of a sudden, there are no overaestheticized swipes from random nepo baby micro-influencers. their seemingly heightened-past-your-average level of irony and IDGAF virtue signaling gesturing at their pure and utter contentedness as divine winners of the urban white elite. in their performance cosplaying as nonchalant cowboy cultural tastemakers, i am sold into the illusion of aesthetic superiority that they ooze.

1 kid cudi is facing a grim and unprecedented career low, devoid of any potentially upwards-moving trajectory 2 was it really that good? was it?

Issue XI: Crossroads

at 3:30pm i’m in a rural coffee shop begging for an iced chai latte, both of which they did not possess despite the words on the menu. “we only have drip coffee” the woman unpretentiously offers.3 the chill jolts my spine and i twitch at the expense of the barista’s discomfort.

at 4pm, i am defeated outside sylvester’s deli and grocery on my knees, my body protesting the absence of latte within it. brad’s pervert friend with the ratty white dog and the six pack of mike’s hard from last night glances at me as he unwraps the shimmery seal of the marlboro reds. fighting nausea, i mumble to myself lyrics stuck in my head, equating myself to joan of arc.

back in bed, i shiver and twitch amidst the norovirus, my stomach and brain experience what i can only describe as a complete and utter rebirth. years of brain fog lifted as i stuck my fingers into the back of my throat, and i let go again.


to my relief, i am awoken by the sounds of my house. eggs sizzle and scramble as i lie there in complete protest; to no one’s surprise, the last of micro-influencers to rise. alison roman who? sriracha sears my eyes and nespresso singes my tongue and i feel awake. the chill feels far away and manageable.

i remember an inspiring tweet from one of my favorite bands:

i’m struck by the idea of waking up raging mad every day no joke. to feel extreme anger, or just to feel any extreme emotions upon waking up, something that sticks. kant says that enlightenment is the human being’s emergence from his self-incurred minority. i think of the ways in which my phone reduces me to a self-imposed state of numbness. unwilling to

3 nausea-induced delirious hysterical rage-fueled perception

The Lavender

process anything real, processing infinite terabytes of garbage. i sweep, shower, perfume, tidy, and skin care. i change my outfit six times. I still don’t have my phone.


i can’t wake up raging mad no joke. i roll over, knocking my newly repaired phone off my bed, and don’t feel much at all. downstairs, my father watches bill maher ravenously devour his three guests around a long table. bill maher has an inability to shut the fuck up, his cockiness embedded in every toothy neoliberal smile. i think that there’s something about bill maher that he’s doing right; he possesses a unique ability to charm fathers in particular, with his white man positionality being excused by his progressive views. it still makes me twitch. there’s something crazy in his teeth, something that john oliver and stephen colbert have never and will never reach.

upstairs, my room is small but warm, aesthetically confused by the product of angsty and impatient design choices. i have a single green wall. i wish it wasn’t green. purple is an interesting color and blue is the color least interesting to like. navy blue and black actually do work together, but the navy has to be lighter than the black. my favorite colors are black and white and that’s on being unbothered by the passage of time and the temporal nature of color trend cycles. 4

i scroll on twitter.



4 are your 2021 earth tones collecting dust in your closet?

Issue XI: Crossroads


Elva Lindeburg Leth

It was an August night

(One of the warmer ones)

You were sitting alone outside an East Village bar I sat down and asked what you were drinking

Water you said I wanted to order something with pineapple—try something new, something seasonal—but your gaze made me stumble over my words and I ended up with a margarita

I asked you your name but you didn’t wanna tell me I could accept that for the time being You liked my dress and asked what I was reading

Nothing right now. I’m writing I said and showed you my journal

The breeze played with my hair and you joined in, twisting a strand around your finger You had a beauty mark right next to your eye. When you smiled, the lines in your face pushed it forward and I wanted to lean my body across the table and kiss it

Our conversation was made up of attempts to figure out if we had ever crossed paths before Ever been to the Halloween dog parade in Fort Greene? Spent your Friday nights by the Gowanus Canal? Picnicked in Riverside Park?

You shook your head no

And I was reminded of how big the city is

They closed the bar at midnight and told us to leave so they could take the tables inside What kind of bar is this?

You walked me to the subway. You were going uptown, I was going down to Brooklyn I said I wanted to see you again

And you let me trace my phone number on your arm

Can I please write it down for you? Can I say it out loud and make you repeat it until you remember? You smiled and rolled down your sleeve

And then you kissed me. My lips leaving a red stamp on yours

A souvenir

The Lavender

Sunday Morning, 9 A.M.

Caelan Desmond

The wind took another breath last night; yesterday’s curated Arcadia fell out of harmony. And so the man is out again today—as everyday—his back arched to mimic the willow he adores, his tin wheelbarrow off-kilter with the weight of shed sticks. A red hat defines him within a cocoon of interwoven greys in the branches and in the stones. His coffee sits atop a fence post and watches as he restores his gentleman’s farm to its benign glory. Come noon, he will relocate, but he tends to willow first.

His wife stands in the door frame with a .22 while her overpoured glass of chardonnay sweats. She has discovered recently that, much like herself, the squirrels have a taste for the organic and they have ransacked her birdfeeder. The rodents commit to acrobatics to show her that this morning will be no different than last—the willow will have another scar across its chest from a bullet that wouldn’t think to touch the feeder. After twenty-five years of marriage (she won’t quit now), a cardinal’s landing on the perch, and the faint sound of a hum, she lays down her arms. She will wait until the church bells stop ringing and her husband’s mistress has been pruned before she aims again.

Only the dogs observe Sundays, kneeling before the woodstove, while cows graze on a winter field’s stubble.

Issue XI: Crossroads
Eleonor Andersson

I-91 South

Been seeing lighthouses, lately. More than a normal amount of lighthouses’, I guess.

There’s nothing to illuminate but August-dry stalks, bathed in tinnitic, sanguinary wind. charcoal ed crops don’t do much, under fluorescence. My sunhat doesn’t neither. Not that I’m getting burnt. Doctor,

Harvest season’s on it’s way, Doc say’s.

the grand Interior’s now ready for its grander Deflowering. Not that flowers have anything to do with it.

One wonders what a lighthouse is doing there.

I think I am beginning to know. This thing we’re still calling a squall hasn’t stopped for a Good long while, now. Cartilage peeks out, behind the eyes.

NNNNNNNNNot that cartilage a bug sheds its skin; graft it back on please Doc HHHHHHHas anything to do with


XI: Crossroads it. The sky Encroaches, Or recoils revuls ive, its clouds like lungs clogged with edema; pulmonar ily pregnant mothers far past due. Doc, why do the lighthouses Doc, why are the li ghthouses searching so fitfully? Their light is Oh So Very Difficult to find in this poor weather. Th ese eyes betray, grunged with rain and spoils. No need f or eyedrops now. Doc, I think the sun is ashamed, or grieving; she hasn’t shown her face in Harvest season’s nearly here, say’s Doc. Oh; Let me just take a shower before it comes in. I do not want it to And it all floods in as the heavens crack upon a lighthouse’s steeple, too-pointed, arrogant, and, for a moment, we are all equal, terrified and accepting under the terrible crash of Ordinance. Lungs avalanche through ribs eternal. Death has exchanged his horse for a surfboard and he rides the foamed edge of his bellowing wave as the Earth collapses, culling all he can. He bawls through the cacophony; in the mi(d)st of cataclysm, perhaps there is fun to be found. Ohh, oh; The distance between your bed and bath has become so great. I think this tor rent washes itself. Phlegm-wreathed he morrhage and accelerated erosion. Snowfall and forest swaddled, land drawn and quartered; maize and rapeseed finally reaped, a molting world with no Doc to graft it back on.

I think it’s time for us, too, to molt, and harvest. This new helix of stars beck ons bas hfu L.


The Lavender

Cris Rodriguez

Strangers in my living room

In the hour through the hills and towards the beach, the merengue mix blares over the radio as the company starts to get to know one another. The car occupants are strangers to each other, collected, but not curated, from the uncleaned crevices of the places I’ve been. Massimo breaks the silence, announcing that his memories of the Caribbean are fond, though fraught. We’re 30 minutes from the house when he confesses that the last time he had been on the island, he had attempted to take an innocent dose of molly to enjoy the bubble bath darty and instead been unknowingly baited and switched at the hands of one of his more adventurous frat brothers. By the time the packed powder revealed itself as meth, Massimo had already run through a deceptively transparent glass paneled wall at the all-inclusive spring break Punta Cana Hotel. He had buckled down since then and established a regiment for himself. He did yoga in the mornings, fasted 1 day per week, and limited his drug use to strictly cocaine, strictly on Saturdays, and strictly if he intended to watch the sunrise on Sunday morning with the intention of meditating on the person he wanted to be. The round-robin of bad behavior, eerie serendipity, and chance encounters picks up and drifts off after Lexey matches with a story of being semi- willingly kidnapped while trying to catch a wave off the coast of somewhere far from home that she couldn’t remember. The company I keep tends towards this theme, so I hang about in a wet bathing suit and listen to it all play out.

On the 3rd day, I develop a UTI that proves unreceptive to reddit medicinal practices. I fold on trying to fix the problem myself and call my mom, hoping that by law of a mother’s intuition, she will know just what to do. She tells me to change out of my bikini and wait by the phone. Not 5 minutes later, the screen lights up with an incoming WhatsApp call from an Iowa number. An ambiguously Eastern European voice addresses me by name, introduces herself as The Doctor, and tells me she is frosting a cake but will be over in 25 minutes: 12 minutes to finish the icing, 3 minutes to gather her materials, and 10 for the drive. As I begin to tell her the address, she hangs up the phone.

When the doctor arrives, the company is sun-drunk and draped over the furniture in the open-air great room. I stand up from being laid out on the kitchen counter to greet the petite stranger, who throws her arms around me and tells me that I don’t look a thing like my mother, saying nothing more that might indicate how the two came to know one another. She looks at me with electric eyes that lock into mine with the intensity of gaze that babies project onto

35 Issue
XI: Crossroads

strangers in public spaces. The Doctor opens her medical satchel and places a urine sample kit on the countertop.

I leave the door cracked to make conversation as the pee trickles over my hand into the plastic collection cup. After a soft prompt question or two, I learn that the doctor is a retired surgeon and a recreational baker. The former she had been cornered into out of political necessity after having left home at 16 to join the KGB as an act of rebellion against her parents, who had encouraged her, not so gently, to become a concert pianist. The latter, she had picked up as an act of assimilation after being dispatched Stateside as a spy. I place the urine sample on the table as she unpacks 2 plastic bags full of Tupperware containing brownies, breakfast bread, and classic apple pie. She bakes only American desserts with the exception of a Russian Honey Cake, layered and frosted with 3 quarts of homemade yogurt that she says reminds her of home and must be refrigerated immediately lest the frosting start to melt, and the tires begin to slip.

I ask her how she came to find herself in the Caribbean. As she presses her hands clinically into the soft of my lower abdomen, she shifts her gaze adoringly to the man she left to linger in my living room.

She tells me that her new husband she had met on a cruise after switching sides and allying with Uncle Sam in favor of vacation days and the all-American 9-5. She saw him across the double-deck rec room with the apparition of a neon sign above his head that indicated that he was the one. When the cruise docked, they were wed, and she never looked back on the life she led, or on the husband she left, after stabbing him clean in the chest and suturing him up with a piece of loose dental floss.

I insist that they absolutely must join me and my friends for dinner.

By the time our newest additions arrive that evening, we’ve already dug into the family-style feast. The Doctor apologizes for being late, pulling up a chair beside me and announcing to the table that her brother-in-law has just been involved in a fatal car accident. I offer my condolences and some creole chicken, unsure of the etiquette of follow-up questions. She assures me that the tragedy is unrelated to their tardiness as she leaves her plate empty, allowing the platter to pass over her place. The Doctor

The Lavender

explains that she eats only 5 foods: hummus, falafel, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs—only in 3s plated and peeled onsite—and one undisclosed. As the night wears on, the dinner table devolves into a breakaway of varying asides and The Doctor earns my ear, scooting her chair an inch closer to mine and confessing that since meeting me just a few hours prior she has recognized an undeniable kinship between us. I read her as the type of person that I collect from disparate corners, and she reads me as the kind of person that does not have time for slow-acting medication, so she gives me a handful of unmarked pills and instructs me to take them all at once on an incredibly full stomach. She gives me instructions for healing, telling me that though light beer is fine, water is best and if I start to bleed, or worse yet to vomit, she’d be over, night or day to find the fix.

When the night is over, she says her goodbyes, hugs me tight, and tells me that I am like a butterfly, beautiful to look at, easy to perch, but impossible to catch, resistant to being trapped in the palm of one’s hand.

The plates stack, the table clears, and I uncase the Russian Yogurt Cake, preparing to heed The Doctor’s orders. Massimo starts on another tale as the merengue plays on, but I hear only the phantom swish of a urine sample and the sage advice of the stranger recently departed from the living room.

Issue XI: Crossroads

November, 2023

After dinner, we walk. she sets dandelion ghosts into the wind and watches as they settle in my hair, eyelashes.

It’s funny, I think, how my words fractalize and churn dust, neverending, in the pursuit of touch. I find myself retracing footsteps, repeating untruths: how much I love her, how I’ll take down your portrait, stubbornly framed above my bed.

We lay under you often. She makes love to me and I feel guilty seeing you in the shadow of her nose, in the dark of her pupils, between her front two teeth, tonguing her smell into my pores.

When her breath grows heavy in my ear, I’ll slip out, barefoot, and revel in the crunch of frozen green under my toes. I’ll scour the lines you sent me for some hidden meaning.

When tiredness finds me I’ll stare up at Ursa Minor, the blinking constellation obscured, momentarily, by each lungful of pregnant air. They hang in drunken moonlight, trembling, dissipating, clouds.

Tomorrow, I’ll purchase a single envelope and lick it shut. Enclosed is a sprig of lavender and three words, a reminder that I am alive, and that, even without you, the world remains shockingly beautiful.

The Lavender


Sonia Menken

My boyfriend is a computer science major

And he taught me not to get my puffy down jacket wet in the rain

We work because I’m the kind of person who leaves a zucchini on the scale after paying for it

And he’s the kind of person who keeps a toolkit in his trunk

Walking out of the grocery store thinking about the sky

Only to be chased down by Suzy from the register, flailing green phallus in the air

He brings extra batteries for headlamps when camping

And I forget zucchinis

But the meal gets made

And we can see the path to brush our teeth in the woods

Issue XI: Crossroads
Eleonor Andersson

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