Saint Ann's High School Literary Magazine

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STAFF Tess A.-M., Raimi B. , Gabriella B. , Violet D. , Kaitlyn D. , Julia F. , Eitan F. , Lila H. , Caroline H. , Katie L. , Dora L. , Phoebe L. , Harry P. , Mia R. , Allie R. , Tate S. , Julia S. , Langston S. , Luna S.-B. , Sydney S. , Cuatro V. , Phoebe W., Mary W. , Jacob Y. , Alexandra Z. EDITORS Amalya C., Anna G. FACULTY ADVISORS Ashlyn M. , Connor S. Many thanks to the following people for their support and assistance: Kevin A. , Blair C. , Jason A. , Tom H. , Melissa K. , Dov L.-N. , Jesse K. , Mary Lou K. , Michele L. , Chloe S. , Terry T. , and Vince T. . Thanks also to the English and Art departments, and in particular Eli F. , Larissa T. , Elizabeth F. , and Marty S. . We are especially grateful to everyone who submitted work to this magazine.

Copyright Š2020 Saint Ann’s School Brooklyn, New York

POETRY AND PROSE “325” “ella is soft...” SABALI “Index of Love” Board Meeting 18 “things back then weren’t as bad...” Portrait of a Family What Work Is... My Hell/The Drain Allow Yourself To Contain Multitudes Midnight Boggle “Personally, I think we’d be better off...” I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine An Abridged History of Your Faith... Exaltation of the First Mythical Matron An Odd Question to Ask Rotundum Ode to peanut butter 5-Part Story Structure “it was almost summer and...” Dream Garden “I woke up late, packed too quickly...” Funeral Plans A Criminal Act

Ayla S. Una R. Edie L. Zibia B. Shai B. Amalya C. Seryn K. Tess A.-M. Lee G. Sydney S. Abby D. Skye R. Isabel Y. Max K. Claire S. Heath H. Molly S. Cuatro V. Adelaide C. Finn H. Jessina N. Lucy G. Langston S. Maude G. Henry K.

13 16 17 20 22 25 26 29 30 32 34 36 37 38 41 42 44 46 47 48 50 52 54 59 60

“It was on a cold day...” Grotesque A CPR Class One Sunday “Standing slackly in your mother’s doorway...” Doll-Framed Castle Prospect in June New York Thanksgiving Seated Woman In A Garden, 1938 Not Just Abstract Used Cars for Sale “honey bees spend all spring...” “One night I rode the bridge alone...” En-route From the perspective of Richard the Third not as if Sword’s Eye, Chapter 1 My relationship with my hair is a queer thing Homework This Love’s Sweet Like Tooth Decay Forgetting the Sun “Lou sat on the maroon loveseat...” “i am the ancient, i am the land” Future Armando Galarraga and the Imperfect Game “1. You...” (Solitude)

Sam N. Sammy G. Sydney S. Zibia B. Soleil P. Skye R. Oliver Y. Naya M. Max K. Lukas K. Lucien B.-T. Jessina N. Langston S. Ayla S. Russell B. Sage F. Wendy D. Thisbe W. Sammy G. Mia R. Maeve M. Ruby K. Lee G. Isabel M. Finn H. Adelaide C. Claire S.

62 66 67 69 70 72 74 78 79 81 82 84 87 87 91 93 95 98 100 102 104 103 108 109 110 112 114

“In high school we moved to Savannah...” Moon Song Purpose “For quite a few years...” To be or not to be My Daughter A Sonnet to Orsino, from Viola (12th Night) “Berman...” “The time has come...” The Fittest Mannequin Nothing but Blue skies and Blue birds ‫הנשה שאר‬

Frances M. Heath H. India Cole Illia K.-C. Levon T. H. Lily S.-K. Caroline H. Angelique R. Eitan F. Lola G. Julia F. Isabel M. Una R.

115 117 118 119 120 122 123 124 126 127 129 130 131

Of Glory Reqium translated into English “Today, I was reminded of you...” Eliza Skin Trainspotting Breaking Patience Me In May The pile of damp cardboard Diner Hoarding or Preserving? Connection Remembering To Forget I want to touch a horse

Lio O. Katie L. Katie E. Josey K. Jules H. Edie L. Cuatro V. Allie R. Fia d. S. Julia S. Joline F. Ruby K. Maxlyn W. Phoebe W.

132 133 134 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 146 149 150 152

“The Coffee Cart...” Eight Ways of Looking at an Egg “You wind down unfamiliar staircases...” Post-Romantic The Lion and the Gazelle Quarantine “In the beginning...” “I want a window...” Le Cafe du Loup National Intelligence Matter Quiet “A man sits in a blazing field...” A Response: “Love me indigo...” The Forest Purple Anticipation Lucidity The Cries of the Poor Old Train “My body is attempting to self-combust...” Synesthetic Messiah is Tired of All Your Bullshit PILEUP “When I look at my mother...” 1/2 Montauk, the end Tony Leung Is Too Short maybe desire is wrong.

Nina D. Violet D. Shai B. Zibia B. Sam N. Isabel Y. Langston S. Jessina N. Lucien B.-T. Lukas K. Max K. Naya M. Oliver Y. Skye R. Soleil P. Sydney S. Sammy G. Julia F. Sam N. Isabel M. Heath H. Edie L. Mia R. Ayla S. Tess A.-M. Thisbe W. Bevan H.

153 154 155 156 158 163 165 168 170 173 175 177 178 179 180 181 185 186 188 190 192 194 198 199 200 202 203

“At 4:30 in the morning...” Me, the Orange. “You once told me...” A Quarantined Love Charlise stage directions Wanting a Penguin Mr. Americana For 2.75 Estate’s elegy teeth Moment by Moment Synesthesia “Of The Inconstancy of Our Actions” Epicanthal Folds Destiny’s Generators Sandstorm buffer/buffer

Fia d. S. Phoebe W. Maddie W. Anna G. Lukas K. Joline F. Evan G. Abadai Z. Simon L. Eliza B. Nina D. Oonagh M. Claire S. Thisbe W. Julia F. Mia R. Una R.

205 207 209 210 211 213 215 218 221 222 223 225 226 227 228 229 230

ART Sam N. Evie F. Lucy G. William B. AC M. Oonagh M. Anna G. Anna G. Claire S. Edie L. Mia R. Wendy D. Henry K. Fenner W. Walker S. Emily R. Thisbe W. Léa S.-G. Frances M. Una R. Maude G. Amalya C. Ruby D. Zaki A.

4 10 12 19 Cover, 24, 103 28, 191 33, 53, 145 40, 100 45 58 62, 137, 217 71, 162 80 86, 224 95, 187 115 167 164 175 197 201 206 212 231


325 If houses had voices I hope you would sing of us, read from words lying on the floor, stamped into the stairs by too large feet, the sometimes-itchy carpet would you tell of me, ten and alone for the first time watching the stars still stuck on my ceiling flick on and off as the planes tracked their arches across the sky me, twelve, catching my breath as I see the world break open. It is raining, a biblical downpour which marks that day with a certain kind of solitude, an I’m-safe-and-inside-day, a day where I was thankful for you, for you supporting eight inches of rain. you, built in 1834, on a hill next to a pig farm, and as they headed for the slaughter you shelved their masters knives and allowed all to rest, death, halted, for a moment. Me, fifteen, trying a new pair of shoes Me, sixteen, putting up a painting Me, sixteen, taking it down —


When I leave, will you cry amber tears, tears which catch the metal porch, made before the Gowanus was a superfund site, and make it glow. I hope you would ask how its been, how the world looks from roaming eyes. Will you remember the crying the the shower days, the on-the-fringe-and-counting-days, the times when we would fill the bathroom to breaking with steam — steam which coated the mirror thick and snotty till all but our outer fringes ladened with light — disappeared as you protected us from the growing cold. I hope you would miss me, just enough to keep the bricks stand tall in solidarity. — Do you remember the day, five, must have been April, when I awoke at five to find a dead mouse, its red insides dancing with the grey carpet fibres? Do you remember how they glistened in the LED-laced light, how it seemed as if its heart would begin to beat again if touched? Do you remember how the night before a fog alarm had gone off and the woman on TV


called in an omen from the dead? After so many years a scent has anchored itself to the paint, we becoming-one-construction a site — with a hint of pepper it could sell for $100 a bottle if we called it “morning musk: a city after fire.” Do you remember us, curled up upon our parents’ bed, the red clock light tinting the walls as we counted down 5...4...3...Happy New Year and as the bells from the church rang out and the TV flashed golden we hugged each other tighter and whispered thank you for standing for almost 200 years, thank you for surviving two hurricanes and keeping us warm as our own foundations were tested thank you for helping us always rock back to our feet Ayla S.


ella is soft like a viola, twisty like peanut butter. i like her hair. she is too stretchy. sometimes she accidentally walks like a clown. her earrings melt like she is seven thousand degrees fahrenheit. when ella was eleven, she sounded like a six am alarm. she tasted like pretzels and hummus, smelled like her mama. now that she is all grown up she looks like a real girl. her sweatshirt covers most of her but not all. ella isn’t tall enough to kiss a raincloud yet. she might try, but her feet are made out of earth. when ella smokes she gets so giggly. if i sliced her open, i might find a garden. Una R.


SABALI If you’ve never seen footage of yourself as an infant, in pre-memory, preverbal, pre-literate youth, know that you must prepare yourself for the day you do. You will be provoked by these visions, your younger self crying, eating, dreaming and flourishing in a kind of newborn love that is ultimately ephemeral, limited only to those newborn seconds. In these films you will witness your own unadulterated life. Yet you will find that you do not necessarily want to return there, to that innocence, and you will know that this is because you have grown to love what maturity has offered you. You have grown to love books, grown to love music, grown to love your ability to express emotions deeper than those baser instincts. Even so, prepare yourself. You will see your ordinary humanity captured in video-camera grain, in your father’s shaven face and in your mother’s unchanged hands. You will resent your adult complexity. Fast-forward, and you watch yourself stub your toe and exaggerate your sobs. You will see pain manifest in your face as it always has, and realize that really, nothing has changed. You have always been drawn to the same drama. Your tears have always tasted the same. This is what will be most frightening—the realization that despite the fact that you have always considered your childhood to be something foreign and entirely unrelated to your current self, you have never not felt what you feel now. Pain and love have always been equally as intolerable as they are now. You have not matured. You have instead learned what each feeling means, learned to process them, to recognize their patterns. You will see yourself grow, see your hair change color, see your face broaden and your features shift. Your brother is born. Your mother is sick, then not. The video will break for a moment, and when it returns again you will see yourself filmed through a cracked door. You will be older, in your first year of school. Perched by a window, you will wear blue corduroys and grey converse. You will press your father’s headphones to your ears with both small hands. Your memory will tell you that Sabali flows through those headphones. You will see yourself, backlit beneath the window, grapple with the unfamiliar language and fill with the understanding that the melody has somehow broken into you. The song ends, and you will play it again. The camera will be steady, patient; it knows these are new rhythms. You will watch as your


younger self plays the song again, and again, and again. Your posture and expression will be mirrored in your younger self. You will know that you are witnessing the beginning of something now so familiar, and it will be unbearable, this viewing of your own first movement. Yet you will feel no desire to warn yourself. You will not want to see the music end. Instead, you will be overwhelmed with an urge to listen as well, return to the child you see before you and take on the burden of her internal evolution. Still watching yourself, you will find the song and let it ring. Sabali will flood you and though its melody will be weird, you will feel it shifting in your core. When it ends you will play it again. You will find the English translation, and learn that the song is a combination of French and Bambara. You will read the words and learn that their meaning is trivial and ultimately meaningless to you. Your movement will diminish. You will feel embarrassed by your smaller self, still lost in cosmic wonder on the screen before you. You will feel ashamed of her willingness to surrender to such a feeling, to be so vulnerable. And so you will stop the song and turn off the film. You will retreat to your room and sit on the edge of your bed. You will know that you were unprepared for this viewing. With inexplicable apathy, you will realize just how arbitrary your experience has been. You will realize that music is a master manipulator, and you will feel manipulated. You will lie back, and surrender to the realization that despite your age, despite all the rote memorization of passing passions, despite the music you have come to love and the growth you have witnessed in countless mirrors, you have become no less vulnerable than you were at six years old. Edie L.



Jose Asuncion Silva put on a white shirt and went to the doctor. He asked the doctor to draw on his shirt the exact size and location of the human heart in the body. Silva went home, loaded a pistol, muzzled it dead center of the outline, and fired. —Rebecca Lindenberg, Love, an Index Index of love, more like


Indent of love in my pretty Button-mouthed mouth Which looks stunningly like vermouth, Which is another way to button. Indent of loving, Adrenaline. Indent of lovely, my quiet moments of self-assurance. thank you god There were times when I pressed me, myself You could say I was beating love. Or when I can really feel it Petite fille en feu You could say eating love. I marched towards you so perfunctory You might say fleeting love


I went to Cadman In June, And fragile as I was, attempted to say good-bye, Meeting love. One Tuesday, You made me sad for you. But did you cut your hair? Fatiguing love. I’ll burn you out of me BabyDefeating love. There was never any explanation for you Not given, not taken. Incompleting love.

Love, which Is really Just the body ‘s memory Of movement Going Towards1 Zibia B.

1 Rebecca Lindenberg, Love, An Index


Board Meeting Ok we open with the text GIRLS CAN’T and then we film a blonde saying “Girls can’t run fast” and we cut to her running really fucking fast. Then a redhead says “Girls can’t speak up” and we cut to her giving a speech and it’s hella good. Then a brunette says “Girls can’t be tough” and cut to her just beating the shit out of some dude. Then we throw in a girl with a Hijab saying “Girls can’t make a difference” and she’s in a lab coat and she cures cancer. So then it’s back to the text but now it says GIRLS CAN and we go through all the girls saying “I CAN.” Girls CAN. Vitamix. Get it? It’s about girl power. But also about blenders. Ok here’s another one: We open on a classroom. A boy is looking at another boy and he’s got a crush. The boy turns around and the first boy looks away. The bell rings. He goes home. Then cut to the next morning, his sister leaves the bathroom. He goes in, locks the door, puts on her makeup, comes out of the bathroom, and his mom is there. It looks like she’s mad but then PLOT TWIST she smiles and hugs him. Blend the lines. Blend anything. Vitamix. Thanks, Tom, I didn’t go to Harvard Business School for nothing. How ‘bout this: We open on a march. Everyone’s protesting something. 23

Kids are holding homemade signs looking all cute and there’s really inspirational music playing. The police show up and they’re all mad and they wanna stop the march. The protesters and the police all look at each other and they have a dance battle. The protesters dance and they twirl their signs and the police do a choreographed routine and it’s sick as hell and then they all start dancing together and police brutality is solved through the power of dance. Mix it up. Vitamix. No, not like the Pepsi commercial. This is completely different. We’re selling blenders. Shut up, Tom! I know you’ve been stealing my paper clips! Ok: We open on a single mom who just fucking puts her baby in the blender. Vitamix. HR meeting? What for? Shai B.



18 I’m promiscuous with my eyelashes I blow them off of my fingertips for any damn thing I stake my future on random bets with the universe about which popcorn kernel will burst next in the pan How many steps it will take me to walk from my front door to the subway station I chip my teeth on dry pasta and slice my fingers when I turn the page too fast Small slaps for my impatience I want to cry when sponge cake still tastes like heaven even when my grandmother doesn’t make it Do my taste buds not have loyalty? On my sixteenth birthday I licked it off the knife I sliced it with On my seventeenth I was too busy dancing and missed cake all together I used to carry myself lightly Now my thudding footsteps produce handwritten complaints from my downstairs neighbors I don’t know what weight I’m laden with My whole life has been sweet sweet sweet (Except for a few choice moments which I omit from my notebooks, edit out of existence, so when I am old I will look back and champion this version as truth) All these notebooks spill over with promises and plans Detailing the ways I’ll carve myself up and keep only the sweetest parts Shove the bitter down the drain These are the moments I hug my brother the hardest, because everybody knows his moral compass is dead on While I have been deemed irredeemable I’m eighteen and still haven’t learned how to twist my hair up in the way my mother likes Even when I try, I use too many bobby pins Tell me I still have time Amalya C. 26

things back then weren’t as bad as I make them out to be now, i think. there were some days, in fall, in the weeks before and after halloween, and in spring, where the earth would be calm and grey and forgiving and water hung in the airs and it was the kind of day that made you think, really think. and you’d pass the park and look up at that beautiful white-grey sky, the same one that you saw when you were a baby and times were simpler, and then you’d look down at your feet, on the old grey stones, and see how different things are now and how big you’ve become. you take up space now. when you get inside, it’s echoey because it’s empty but then all of a sudden there’s a jingling and the dog comes out and he says, oh you’re here and then he takes a sip of water and pads to the living room. and you pull off those big rubber-soled boots and hang up the coat and dump the bag somewhere where you can worry about it later because now you are in a little pocket of cosmos where time feels ok.


sometimes you would watch old movies in the dark and your heart would light up in romantic ways you’d never admit to in waking life. when your thighs were cold you would run a hot bath and allow the water to swallow you whole. or you’d just lie around in your socks and bra because it was your space and no one else’s. and when the mood struck you, you’d go to the piano and sing an old sad song or two that you learned when you were a child, putting on a show for one. but mostly, it was just great to lie there, on the white comforter that smelled like you, and stare up at the blank ceiling. all the lights were off in the house and the sun was nowhere to be found so it was just this glorious, magnificent grey filtered light through the white floral shades and into the room, filling everything with a comfortable mutedness. Seryn K.



Portrait of a Family How I used to bang on the table, crawl under it, use the tines of the fork to etch names into it. How it kept us anchored here, even when the dock eroded. How an empty seat meant trouble, meant losing the needle that knitted the threads together, one on top of the other. Loss licked life’s edges and we licked the plates. How the embroidered family portrait, framed in orange light, is hung, still, even though it was 4 of us now 3— our smiles an inch too wide, eating up what’s left of our faces. Even when we are gone the table is there— nuts and bolts of a table a table alone in a room with no people. A table, knees, feet, a gash a gash in that old chair, coughing up its padding after all these years. A table is still a table even if there’s nowhere to sit. Tess A.-M.


What Work Is… 1. work is passionate excruciation. goka refused to be a farmer like his father, and his father, and his—wanting better things was what killed his father but the cycle had to be broken sometime. he stepped onto a college, his ancestors watching, and did not understand what he was looking at, only that he would work his fingers to the bone if he was able to stay. for years, he only saw his children a couple dinners a week, less when the hospital shifts became frantic. he saved the lives of thousands of people, researched and wrote and starved so his family could eat. his work was his life, and when he retired he had to learn who he was again, 2. work is the drudge for survival. mama makes her way home in time to make dinner and not a second earlier. her hands are spotted with ink and her skirt soaked in chalk dust. the mailbox is full of rent raises and divorce papers salary doesn’t cover. years of twelve hour days have greyed her hair and wrinkled her face, and she’s good at her job, suffers the curse of the competent. when she can’t carpool, she walks the three and a half miles to school each day, and i learned every callose and blister on her foot. two children and a dog to care for, she is a nurturer in her soul, a teacher in her heart, but that doesn’t mean it pays. i peel the glow-in-the-dark stars of my ceiling with each year’s move, and eventually they stopped sticking,


3. work is sweat and blood and fire. to keep my almost-stepmother from starving me i drove her tractor in the rain. i compiled compost, lifted fallen branches, milked cows and stole the eggs of chickens. i picked blueberries blackberries basil thyme rosemary until my hands bled. i chased rabbits out of the garden and foxes out of the hen house. i baled hay after school in return for tampons, mowed lawns in return for shelter, sheared sheep for clothing, washed dishes for food. once, on a dark and stormy night, i went to the barn to grab straw from the rafters and was screeched at by a ghostly white barn owl, eyes pitch black and feathers ruffled. i still have the scar from falling so far, still see the blood, 4. work is a circulatory system. i eat the fruits of labor. i walk through them, breathe them, wear them, see and smell them every second of every day of my life. every moment i am interacting with someone’s work, changing it with me and myself being changed. we work for bread but it does not alone fill us, not even bread but crumbs. we are not defined by our production, despite everything. and yet every day i pass hands that are smooth and clean. there is no dirt under their nails, no familiar calloused palms, lacking the comfort of split knuckles. they have never had to add a little dancing to their dying, never drowned themselves in sweat through sweltering and freeze, 5. work is a coin with infinite sides, a person with infinite faces. it gives and it takes away. it represents the best and the worst of us, the best and worst in each of us, i am proud to know what work is. Lee G. 32

My Hell/The Drain There’s a time of day, usually evening, when my sister isn’t around, when Dad throws open the door to my room, the two dogs creeping behind. He presents the interruption as a visit, laying himself as a seal, at the end of my bed. Turning from my desk I frown a little at the dog slobber approaching the floor and he either gives a laugh or forgets to notice. He asks how my day was. I say fine. He complains at my lack of conversation. I ask how his day was. He says fine. Some point soon after, all that is heard is typing and the steady breath of the dogs and him and all that is felt is the chill of a window not properly sealed. He gives a pause too long and then asks me the favor. “No! No! No way, that’s the one thing!” I say and he protests that his hand is too big to fit down there and after much persuasion spilt I agree to at least have a look. He leads my hand to the sink and seeing the water filled with fog and yellow and the leftovers of tomato sauce and the ends of meats and the breaking away of what could be potato or could be dog food, I look away in a choke. “I can’t stick my hand down there! I can’t even see the drain, and who knows what’s down there!” I stress and he insists there is no other way and gravity would weigh in on our playful clash as I call him careless with the sink and he calls me wimpy. After threats, I throw my hand in, shutting my eyes. Sticky lumps of things climb my fingers and paste themselves to bracelets lining my wrists. I gag a little, maybe press my palm to my head and with one last movement release the food from the drain. Holding my drippy hand up over the sink with my other hand like a flashlight, we watch together as the water flushes. Sydney S.



Allow Yourself To Contain Multitudes you are CAPABLE and verSatile. you are m

and dynamic. al lea ble you are active and intelligent. you can do all the things. you can talk to that one senior who you KNOW in your heart is really not thinking about you at all but you feel as though they judge your every move and they really would not be weirded out if you talk to them. they’ll probably think you’re cool. you can take the class that sounds really interesting but it’s an interdisciplinary study about something like the ways in which science guides every aspect of politics and lawmaking but also there’s an art component and you’re not sure if you can sit through a year of that but you will try it because you contain multitudes.


you don’t know whether you should risk getting in trouble to sneak out and look at the stars with your friends to feel something that is so much bigger than you. it’s pretty unlike you. unlike you to break the rules. you’re a good girl, always have been. but something comes over you and you want to feel bad. not only do you sneak out to watch the stars and feel that thing that is more than you. run. run. run. run down that hill laughing. let your feet barely catch up to you so that you are practically rollllllllling. your friend stays a little bit behind, holding her arm timidly. you know that’s you sometimes, but you contain multitudes. and you know it. she hasn’t found that yet, so you grab her arm and falter d o w n to the bottom of the hill. you can’t see what’s there but you know it’s magic. just the rush your rebellion gives you is magic. and you feel that you contain multitudes. Abby D.


Midnight Boggle She’s stolen my vocabulary Across a table parched for light she obscures my letters with her hands Our witnesses, shadowed, waiting Are poised by the clock So she begins Nouns, adjectives, verbs, prepositions I hide from her my vernacular, my dead, my living And yet I feel them fleeing me, failing me, She tears them from my chest I see them Go Tall, she stands Bespectacled Triumphant Regarding me Ringed by darkness, I am fallen. Skye R.


Personally, I think we’d be better off skin to skin; if you trust me you’ll let me pluck all your feathers so we can line up our pores, and then I’ll undo your stitches from neck to navel ever so gentle, I’ll catch your guts where they spill and hold them in place against my own. And then I’ll sew your new edges to mine. We can be together forever that way. You said you’re so scared to lose me, when inevitably we get swept up in different currents, and to that I say they will have to rip us apart. I’ll entwine the warm tubes of our brains, you’ll braid our hair together like we did in middle school. You won’t feel a thing, baby. Everything will stay just how it was (should have been), only now we won’t be orange-yellow next to each other on the R train, I’ll be right on your lap in the very same seat. (You’ll feel everything, every time I pierce you with the needle you’ll want to scream) And when we stop at Prince street to shop for clothes, we don’t ever have to worry about getting tangled in our shared headphones because we hear everything together (together together together). Goddamn, we’ll be the best-dressed conjoined sisters in the nation. We can hobble down the runway too. First Jeremy Scott will want us (I want), and he’ll put us in Moschino, and from there we’ll slip right into Helmut Lang and then Balenciaga (when the stitches rip) and Dior. Of course, one of us will have to walk backwards, being all sewed up like that. I’d do it for you, baby. Imagine how beautiful. (for you baby for you baby for you) Like oyster shells, all our scars and open wounds and tangled tubes making a halo around our body. Our body. (when the stitches rip those holes will never heal) And every so often, our lips will brush together. That doesn’t scare you, does it? (they’ll just keep bleeding) Think how the crowd will lose their minds over the sensuality of it all. One day, we can staple our tongues together and just think how close we’ll be then. Every word, every sigh, two frequencies from two throats blending into one lovely note. (And every so often. And every so. Think how the crowd will staple our tongues like oyster shells.) Like oyster shells. And when the stitches rip, those holes will never heal, they’ll just keep bleeding, and the little droplets will scatter all about us like pearls. Isabel Y.


I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine Consider me: As I once was, skied out of Mind, and into Dream, seas of green sprawled under sun-basked leaves and I still Dreamed; Consider me: The words in the dictionary are not sufficient to express Dream, nor explain Mind, for I still see signs of rain in the skies, clouded over with lies and deceit and shrouded in the myth of yesterday’s fog, that steam that encircles your Mind when you Dream; Consider me:


A falling raindrop glancing off a balcony, anarchy released at the contact! made when dirt dirties pristine and washes sins away, performing the ablutions owed to my Dream, for I am blind without a guide to the maze of the Mind that I amble through idly, and hazed into a new train of thought, of being which is not justifiable as reality, but contains the unutterable truth of Dream — and only Mind, as Church and State, can separate from the lucidity of seeing the sights that revolve around me, only to morph aimlessly back into Dream; Consider me: A circle, waiting to be squared: a feat of lines — then again, my Mind has traveled too far and too wide, has moved on to a different puzzled piece, new and free: Where does your Mind take you when you Dream? Max K.



An Abridged History of Your Faith and Understanding of Jesus Christ (The Savior)

It began with his name being shouted (in vain) from the mouth of your father in a profoundly exacerbated tone: Jesus (You do not remember this, you were quite young and did not have a comprehensive understanding of vocabulary and sound. your skull was still soft enough to mold.) He began to come up on holidays — a confusing mixed metaphor of birth, death, resurrection, (so, you once thought, zombies?), mistletoe, and relatives drawn to violence after the over-consumption of alcohol and carbohydrates. (A Sin). Then His name again, in the exacerbated tone, this time from the boy in the classroom, his manhood seeping from his pores. From the mouth of the girl you thought was pretty: (pink lips) ¨Girls can´t marry other girls. Boys can’t marry other boys. It’s illegal. Jesus said so.¨ (A Sin) ¨What is S. E. X.?¨ you spelled out unnaturally slowly in an innocent question to your mother. ¨You know.¨ (you didn ́t, you had only heard the whisperings of the other young ones) ¨When two people love each other very much, they want to be as close to each other as possible...¨ This was true. It would come up later when you shared a soft kiss. (Lead us not into temptation) Of Vanity: You put on red lipstick on Sunday Morning. Of Youth: Only the stained glass windows would keep you conscious. (you would create stories behind each one, not knowing that they already had them) Pleasure came with the wine of communion (grape juice) Resting the cracker-shaped body of Christ upon your tongue, pressing it (gently) to the flesh on the roof of your mouth. a waiting game was played as you felt it dissolve. Frankincense and Myrrh clogged the cavities of your head. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Claire S. 42

Exaltation of the First Mythical Matron 1. A sylphic succubus is swallowed sequentially The small siblings smile and sink (A strange sort of snack) consumed for the sole sin of syngamy. She acquiesces to her saddening start. Years succeeding, she is spat out, and their sojourn in Stomach ceased. Centuries subsequent, she is spurned by her sinister savior 2. (The warrior from the womb), and the wrathful woman grows wary while the world spouts wails of “witch” and whispers of worry wield weapons of the woman’s woe, She resolves to wrangle her wartime woodman But witnesses wreck her warfare repeatedly, whilst in weariness lies guilty wishes for widowhood as she wanders wistfully among wisteria. 3. Heretofore she heeds the horizon,


Though her hulking heaven-sent hero’s Horse never hobbles through the heather. Her habitat grows homely, Humid and hot, Her hair grows like hemp from her head. Hourly she prays for herbicide, Perhaps a hurricane, a humble hailstorm, A harvest of this harsh hardware That has mythically harbored her. Neither heaven nor hell heeds her, 4. So she sports his hammer herself, Wandering the wilderness whacking Soil and simpletons, without his human hesitation. Simpletons scream, “Smile, oh succubus! Sink in your skirts and slither back to your home. Whither your husband?” The succubus smiles, sly and satisfied, As the smoking ash sizzles, And she heaves her heavy scythe And swallows him whole. Heath H.


An Odd Question to Ask How much communion wine and how many communion wafers would you have to eat in order to have eaten the equivalency of the entire body of Jesus? In order to eat the equivalency of the entire body of Jesus, first you would have to figure out how much the average man of his time would have weighed. According to Google, an average man of his time weighed about 120 pounds, or 54,431 grams. Assuming a single communion wafer weighs about one quarter of a gram, or .25 grams you would have to eat 217,724 communion wafers. However, we must not forget about the communion wine. The average person of his weight would have had about 9.5 pounds of blood, because the amount of blood in someone’s body is about equal to 8% of their body weight. So it would take about 110.5 pounds of communion wafers and 9.5 pounds of wine, but now we need to convert those amounts into standard buyable amounts. 110.5 pounds is equal to 50,121.96 grams but I’m going to round it up to 50,122 grams to make things a tiny bit more simple. Therefore, if we multiply that number by 4 (because one communion wafer weighs a quarter of a gram) it would take 200,488 communion wafers. Now let’s look at how much wine it would take. In order to do this we would have to find the volume of blood that 9.5 pounds is equal to, because the volume of blood would equal the amount of wine that would have to have been drunk. We know that one pint of blood weighs 497 grams. We know that 9.5 pounds is equal to 4,309 grams. So if we divide 4,309 by 497 we will get how many pints of wine we would have to drink in order to have drunk the equivalency of approximately all the blood of Jesus, which would be equal to 8.67 pints of wine. In summary it would take 200,488 communion wafers and 8.67 pints of wine or about 6 standard 750 ml bottles of wine to eat Jesus. But how long would it take? Well, first thing’s first, you’d probably finish your wine faster than your communion wafers. If you were a really good Christian and went to mass every day it would take just under 550 years to eat Jesus. However, if you weren’t as good of a Christian, and only went to mass on Sunday it would take a little under 3,850 years to eat Jesus. If you wanted to try this at home, you would be able to eat the mass of Jesus’s body, but you wouldn’t be able to eat his “actual body.” This is because the Roman Catholic Church teaches The Doctrine of Transubstantiation, which says you’re not eating the body of Jesus unless it’s consecrated by a priest during mass. However, if you did want to try this at home regardless of The Doctrine of Transubstantiation, 1,000 communion wafers costs $13.99 on Amazon and a bottle of communion wine costs about $7.00 so it would cost $2,804.00 dollars for communion wafers and $42.00 in wine. Molly S. 45


Rotundum Question mark curved hip bones visible in impregnable moonlight sharpened by scarcity. Stars cling in little families clustering to stay alive. I see the moonlit patina of my pelt it is my bubble of warmth in the watery wind one inch in every direction so I stay still. But times have changed so greatly. We have shed our remnants lost somewhere in a world deserted. We brought fires to the skies ripped the stars apart and picked them from the galactic bough to line our tender skinned necks. We turned pessimism into progress without realizing we had entered the world of tomorrow. Bodies remain still like phantom limbs, untethered from the physicality that weighed us for so long. Our minds wander in an illusory world of kinetic inaction and genetic simplicity. But vertebrae are lost, metacarpals twisted, and our skin is flayed to reveal ruby red muscle. The lightning snaps, our writhing worlds of electric blue collapse, and we are back to zero. Cuatro V.


Ode to peanut butter Breakfast every morning my favourite afternoon snack. I like crunchy peanut butter. It has more texture, more personality! So really, This is more than an ode. This is a love poem! A love song! The utmost sign of love. A marriage of sorts. There will be no more ambiguus Yous in my poems. The only You is peanut butter. I am sick of telling all the other Yous how much I miss them. How much I am still in love with the other Yous. And now, no more lying to the other Yous. Because, now, peanut butter, you are my only You. The most important You. I don’t have it in me to recount every love story i’ve ever lived. I don’t have it in me to list every You that’s ever lived in my poems. I don’t have it me to tell you every You i’ve cried about. Every You i’ve cried to, and every You I’ve cried for. And from now on, my reader won’t have to wonder… which heart break now? Because now I only write of happy love! Of peanut butter love! I am happy in my kitchen in the summer with my favourite peanut butter love! Of peanut butter cookie love! Of chocolate peanut butter ice cream love! Of peanut butter on toast love! And peanut butter for every meal love! Of peanut butter hidden in my bedroom love! Of peanut butter wrapped under the tree on christmas day love! Of peanut butter pretzel love! This is an ode to peanut butter and self cleansing. Self awareness and self bettering. This is my break from writing in the wallows of my highschool heartbreak. This is an ode to pullings oneself together. To respecting someone’s peanut allergy. To setting the table without being asked. To making coffee for yourself and your sister. This is an ode to writing a different kind of poem, letting the poem go a hundred places you did not intend. And this is an ode to leaving the title the same and surprising the reader when they see this does not have much to do with peanut butter. This is an ode to how much I love writing odes. And an ode to how much I love reading odes. An ode to new things. And maybe this is an ode to odes, or love poems or love songs. An ode to Taylor Swift and every love song ever. Or an ode to good things, like now, I am here writing this with a spoon and a jar of peanut butter. This is a good thing. The smell of the rain — that is a good thing. The people who understand peanut butter is ruined with jelly. These are good people doing good things. Adelaide C. 48

5-Part Story Structure Part 1. The End We know how this ends, with a diploma, a kiss, and a train ticket. Part 2. The Town Cross the road, malignant road, road of patchwork, smoke, and tar. Buildings mull over the world, and tenants specialize in evaporation. Deals turn to steam that they use to fuel the faucets. This town is for the dreamers of the golden dream, all loose threads and forgettable faces. Part 3. Poetry 101 It’s fervent and it’s vacant space, and hard to complement a page when every recollection makes you want to catch a stutter. There’s nothing positive, there’s the same old themes. T’s uncrossed and undefended.


Part 4. Dénouement The future tumbles on wet grass and street-lights, dim overhead. She looks at the Midwest, the tenants, the tar, at everyone alone, at everything explained. Your days are liqueur, and it’s naive to think they’re better just because you’re older. The subtle colors fracture, projected through the glass. Part 5. Another Kind of Living Never have the couches on the street said so much. Never have the movies felt so real. D-76, stop, and fix. You assume that’s how it’s done. The mind is not really in until the edits. So when your hands decide to move tell yourself they’re moving for a reason. Those who live outside themselves are catnip to the poets, who cloak themselves in pretty words and exalt the other side of hope. Finn H. 50

it was almost summer and i dyed my hands in laundry detergent and formaldehyde if it is true then you belonged to someone once were loved and held maybe pet perhaps sometimes i close my eyes and remember what it was like to hold your head in my hands watch how the flesh that held your eyes slips off into blue sink laundry detergent contains enzymes that break down organic matter so i soaked skull till white went blue and tissue sloughed off with water


and i stood over blue sink shaking your head watching bits of you fall out of the hole your spinal cord used to occupy and i know your neurons started dying minutes after your heart stopped beating but this pink contained you instincts and particulars perhaps you hated the vet or the sound of rain and i stood like a heartless sort of god shaking out

(with a horrible squelching wet noise)

the very meat that made you and i smiled at my handiwork once white was bleached pure and jaws glued back together Jessina N.


a proud, disgusted type of shame

Dream Garden The city’s control lays in the lap of the crown, controlled by the mystery people, living mysterious lives. A garden is their meeting place, warm and cool at the same time, a mixing and twisted hiding place. Falling somewhere between factories and skyscrapers. A misty place of calm. Outside of the garden, rain falls from the far to high heavens, streets filled to the brim with ice cold rain of crazy. A long plaza drips with angry people unhappy with the world around them and the crown that conceals them. Massive buildings riseup every day, locking the people with their walls. A massive flowering mess, ragging red hot sea of pain, with all of that madness laughter and joy locked in a prison of daisy chains. The city lays on a petal with roots deep in the sea. The almost kingdom guarded by the flora and fauna of the world unimaginable by the dragons of the people’s past. Without these dragons keeping the people from themselves the crown would have no power, so they grow their garden, feed it and keep it in a dream. Lucy G.



I woke up late, packed too quickly, stuffed myself in with dog backseat knees against seat, held breath whole way up. There was a tightness to chest that comes with confined spaces. I listened to music, and looked at the trees blur by arrived upstate with pin spread to limb, whole body tense. Fresh air felt nice. I greeted my grandparents in their kitchen, still whole body tense, they heat their floors, heard toes creak on artificial warmth. The house smelled the same as it always does, like old people and rugs. “I have one rule!” my grandma lied (she had more than one- I can assure you). “You must put your shoes where you sleep.” I took my shoes off blistered feet hitting warm tiles. I snuck upstairs to put my shoes away, could hear grandparents yelling, “There’s soup!” Ate cold pork dumplings and soup, tried to hide my discomfort in twitching thumb, my brother made polite conversation about the state of our country. I held my tongue between chipped teeth. I snuck upstairs that night and sat on a bed as old as I was; in the same room my grandmother slept in at my same age. I took precautions with the furniture, remembered I had forgotten toothpaste. Slept in too short bed, counted sheep between my heart thumps. I drank tea in the mornings half and half with sugar, my grandfather is English and drinks his tea with a splash of milk, no sugar. I buttered toast and made polite conversation with my aunt, “The plane was so delayed,” could hear my parents upstairs, soft footsteps, I added jam, bit down. “They lost my luggage!” My cousins came in the afternoon, we were all finally there, my two uncles with their two twins, my aunt, and her second husband, with her only son, my family (two kids two adults), and my grandparents. There weren’t enough beds for people so I ended up sharing room with my little cousins, two eleven-year-olds and I stuck in room, I had panic stuck in lung could feel years worth of anxiety bounce off walls, settle into rugs, we crept about the house, went outside in cold weather, wore hats and burned off noses. I took a shower in my grandparents’ bathroom, I stared at myself in the same mirror they use to stare at too, traced hands over curve of hip bone held my breath as I stepped into the


shower, realized two generations of feet layered the floor, too hot water hit my backI fiddled with the curtain realized generational naked bodies had similarities, wondered if grandma ever knelt down on shower floor, felt too hot water hit spine, cried until tears mixed with water, only difference was salt. I got out of the shower and realized I had flooded the floors. My father plays the piano, not as impressively as my uncle, but he played a little one night, I remember I used to sing with him “Don’t stop believing,” we would spend an hour on the piano together, I had no fear of singing, no fear of failure. We played a lot of cards, I won a couple times, we are a very competitive family, a very easily bored family, could feel my brother’s boredom in the ways he twitched his fingers against table, could feel my own travel up my throat, lodge itself in jugular. When I was little I remember my dad would tell stories about my great-grandmother Helen, I stared at her across the room, she was stuck in tight red turtleneck hung on the wall next to old CD player and dust bunnies, she had committed suicide. Apparently, after she died lighting struck a tree in the backyard, I wondered if I would leave the earth the same way, a lightning bolt from the sky, controlled chaos, “You would have been her favorite,” my mother winked. A generation of lighting bolts. My grandfather cried on Christmas eve, it was their 63rd anniversary, my mom made cake, lit candles, watched 63 dribble into icing, I wondered what my grandparents wished for, wondered if you can even wish on candles like this, wondered if my grandparents ever wished at all, threw pennies into fountains if they ever saw shooting stars. I know I drowned copper, didn’t see a lot of shooting stars in the city though. Got in a fight with my brother, felt whole house shake with my anger, too old walls, I felt isolated in the old bed, took less pre precaution with the furniture, slammed drawers, felt my big toe throb. I made a fire, burned the edges of tissue, poked wood with fire iron, felt warmth tickle the edges of my body, my cousin and I talked about addiction, felt the heat of words burn the edges off my body, realized how quickly addiction runs in our family. When I was little and used to come up here, my grandmother bought me a ladybug habitat for my birthday, I remember I would catch ladybugs and stuff them in this habitat, would watch them crawl around with their spotted backs, I added leaves and things so as to make 56

them feel more comfortable, when they died I felt like crying, little wings stuck to plastic. There was a ladybug in my room one night, I remembered the habitat, remembered those spring days, warm, sprite and unfrozen pond, thought about all the growing my bones had done, the freezing of the pond. My grandparents wanted to talk about college, they wanted the full list of applications, I stuffed cookies in my mouth and let my mother do the talking, felt the pressure of success squeeze out like lemons, land somewhere on my mouth trickle-down sit unsettled in stomach, acid and anxiety rocked the insides of my body. My father mediates a lot, him and his sister went on long walks, cleared their minds, enjoyed nature, my mother made dirty jokes, my grandparents stuck up their noses, my cousins went on their new phones, my brother still bored fiddled with pens and made polite conversation, I felt like sinking into old bed stuffing myself into precautious furniture, wanted to explode sometimes, like lightning bolt. I worked on college stuff, stopped sleeping, stayed up till four maybe five with this other voice in my brain. My eyes the next morning felt like sunken pits, “you look tired” grandma quipped, I wanted to bite down on knuckle skin “I am.” My cousin got her period, opened the toilet to find red lined the insides, I felt like hugging her, nudging her into “womanhood” instead I put on socks and watched her yell at her brother I wondered if she felt the same weights as I felt, if she got cramps, wanted to kick boys in the nose but also make out with their faces. It’s a complicated thing, I wanted to whisper, being a human, a complicated and somewhat lonely thing, feeling all these things inside you. And it’s ok. Later at night than I should be awake, I looked in a different bathroom mirror, it was a cramped bathroom, sink too close to door, I was thinking too much and settled on starting at myself instead, wondered whose side I had inherited this bump on my nose from. I think it was my father’s. Sometimes, when I cry, a narrow opening spills out of my chest, the kind that lets all the sad sneak out, I let my hands fall on stomach let fast breaths pump them up think about all the layers of skin between me and my own hand, all the DNA all the bones and the ligaments, all the shit I forget from bio. I wonder if grandpa ever put same hand on stomach, let fast breathing move hand up and down and up and down 57

My mother’s side is a lot louder, much less passive-aggressive, I’ve seen my parents fight, watched how parenting shapes adults, watched how adults shape children. Noticed the way me and my brother fight, how I scream loudest wake up all the ladybugs, how he stifles hunches shoulders, moves rug with toe. We all sat around the table, talked a lot of nothing ate sweet banana cream pie, so sweet my tooth ached after, had stuffed all the nothing into my mouth, carried the ache all the way back upstairs, where I sat in bed nursing headache and self-pity, took a too sweet sugar sleep and dreamed I could fly. Took another shower, this time made sure not to flood the bathroom, stared in same mirror all over again, made sure the water was less hot this time, could still feel discomfort in bone. Got out of the shower and realized I had drowned a ladybug. Felt like crying, wing stuck on wet floor. My father and aunt drove me to the train station, they look very similar, very related much like me and my brother, my dad decided to apologize for all of his old drinking, I felt like turning my music up so loud it screamed down the block, instead, I focused on not kicking the back of the chair, stuffed myself further into backseat. When we got to the train station my father waited with me on the platform, I expressed how anxious I had been all weekend, how fresh air felt, unsticking lodged anxiety in throat. I could breathe through my nose. “It’s not your fault,” he said, “this anxiety is genetic, it’s stuck in that house, we all have to deal with it.” I nodded, my train came I hugged love into my father, watched him stuff himself into car. On the train back I listened to my music as loud as I could, felt the freedom of extra seat, I thought about my aunt, my little cousin, my great grandmother too, saw her in the grey skyline and scratchy trees, thought about my new year’s plans, felt the dawn of the decade, felt the ache of blister on my skin. I wondered if lightning would strike the train, electrify us not kill us. A confused and magical thing it is to be a human. I felt like kissing my own shadow. Langston S.



Funeral Plans All travel arrangements, if not otherwise indicated, will be paid with the money of my ex-spouses. Beginning moments involve closest compatriots gathering in a private oakshelved-forest-green-leathered library with 2 greyhounds and 2 fireplaces at 2:00 AM. Drinks are Oolong tea, whiskey, and lemonade. Second-hand books, which each individual has left their thoughts and marginalia in, will be traded. Bach’s cello sonatas 1-5 will play as entrance music, then Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, followed by some Pavarotti, and finally Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto number 1. All this is expected to be within the city of New York. Then ¼ of my ashes will be placed in a bejeweled urn taken on the subway with my entourage and scattered in the East River on Pier 1. After such an event a tree will be planted close by—a tree that is native to New York state. Immediately after the invitees will change into matching pajama sets and get into a black limousine. This car will take them to South Strafford, Vermont. They will swim in Old City Falls at dawn and change into formal attire. ¼ of my ashes will be scattered on the top of Coburn Hill. Another indigenous tree will be planted. They will sleep for the night on top of the hill. Then the compatriots will fly to Wyoming where they will have a moderated caucus on where the next location should be. (The only requirements being that it is within 1,000 feet of water, in front of a view with a directed focus). Another fourth of the ashes will be scattered and another native plant will be planted. A stranger chosen from the surrounding location will be asked to share their opinions on all significant subjects (previously decided in the initial library). They will leave behind the stranger, see a rodeo and get on a plane to France. In France, the invitees will ride up to Veulettes to scatter the remaining ¼ and plant the final tree on farming land. They are then expected to find their own way back. Maude G.


A Criminal Act I was told not to eat them, But I wasn’t told why. They were out of my reach, On a cabinet up high. “Sugar’s not healthy,” My mother would say. But Mother’s not here, And Father’s away. So no one will stop me, If I climb on a chair, And no one will holler, “Whatcha doing up there!” My dog might be witness, To my criminal deed, But he’s lacking a voice, So untold goes my greed. And those cookies look good, So crumbly and sweet, Nothing like those raisins, That my mom makes me eat.


They beckon, they call me, They whisper my name. They tell me not to worry, Of the guilt, of the shame. I bring in a ladder, And climb up a rung. I take down the jar, Place the sweet on my tongue. I munch it down hard, Chew and then swallow. So I reach for another, And another will follow. Soon they’re all gone, The jar has none left. But the shame, it remains, Of my horrible theft. Henry K.


It was on a cold day—that is, slightly colder than normal for a day just outside Saigon, about 76º—that Miller realized he could game the system completely. As a major, he had the right to have new uniforms issued to his platoon. All he had to do was say the word and a truck full of green shirts, pants, and if he was lucky, shoes, would be on its way to hill 4963. Most of his men were shirtless, having used them to fashion turnicates for the half-missing limbs of their comrades. Most of them had also lost their shoes in some muddy patch while pushing yet further into the unknown jungles in the North, hoping that our guys in the sky wouldn’t drop napalm on their own guys. All this is to say, Miller’s guys needed clothes pretty bad, and Miller could spin this need into monetary value by reselling his free clothes at a low rate. Sometimes his subordinates would light-heartedly threaten to complain to the higher ups. They would say, “Miller, you know we can complain to the higher ups.” Miller would respond, “Fellas, I know you can complain to the higher ups.” They would then say, “all right, well we are going to complain to the higher ups.” Miller would dispel this notion with a short and simple turn of phrase—one might say it was his motto—“I am the higher


ups.” This conversation was repeated many times, and would always induce laughter among the men. A loud, stifling laughter. The kind of laughter that brought the temperature back up from 76º to the usual 90º; the kind of laughter that reminded dead men of how dead they really were. But Miller was a happy young man. He had enlisted with the Marines, well knowing that his uncle, being a trigger happy three star general, would send him straight up to an office somewhere South of that terrible inferno, where he could play chess, and choose which pawns to order out into the blaze, and then observe with interest and an inquisitive smirk which of these pawns came back. He was never concerned with why they came back, only for him to make his next move across the black and white tiles of war. His office was like that of a therapist’s. It seemed to have been engineered for the specific reason of maximizing comfort, and minimizing fear. It had not been designed by an interior designer, but simply by two and a half years of Miller’s trial and error. He would move the couch two inches to the right, and sit for a day in it. Then concluding that it was better before, he would move it to the left two inches, and sit for another day in it just to make sure he was correct. He was never this precise in his actual profession. He just looked at the map—from his office—and made sure that all necessary measures were taken to make sure that the Viet-Cong were not pushing too close to his office. And he was right to take this precaution, as he spent nearly all his time in his office. His various scams, like the lucrative uniform business, could be handled by his officers, and more specifically, officers who didn’t have offices. Miller had once had a fiancée, back in the states. They lived in a small apartment, off of not too much money, as Miller’s uncle was not in favor of donations which didn’t have to do with war. But then came the war, providing him an opportunity to have an office and to have power, something which his wife couldn’t provide. She was, in fact, too powerful for him. He had trouble looking her in the eyes when she told him what to do, and he didn’t want to have to look anyone in their eyes, or not look anyone in their eyes for that matter. He wanted an office. So he left his fiancée in her sleep and he gave his uncle a call. He looked happier in his enlistment photo than anyone in that position should look. Every time he decided to play chess, he would close up his windows and his curtains to avoid the inevitable sights and smells of death he would be met with hours later. Miller was just one of those guys that had it all figured out. Sure, some other people might have called him a bastard, or an asshole, but he didn’t see anything wrong with what he was doing, and so he was having a pretty good time of it. *


On one day in the hot summer of Vietnam, a little piece of fluff was blown onto the smooth vinyl that was Miller’s life. It was the third Sunday of the month of July when Miller went out to do his routine inspection of his platoon at the front lines. This was an inspection that he made on the third Sunday of every month. It was an inspection that required of him a sortie from his office, and was therefore an inspection which he thought to be ridiculous and unnecessary. His alarm went off at 6 am for the first time in 4 weeks, and he rose from his bed with a dutiful expression of malcontent. He put on the only uniform that he didn’t sell to his unit, made himself some of the best coffee money could buy at that time just outside of Saigon, and took it downstairs with him to the world of the living and the dead; a world where he would be picked up in a few minutes in a squad car driven by an eager recruit, who would never receive the promotion he so desired. “Morning sir,” said the new recruit with an empty smile. “Might I say that your uniform is looking mighty starchy today.” “Sure you may,” responded Miller. They continued on to do their duty without uttering another word. Though Miller hated waking up early in the morning, and dreaded the monthly inspection fervently throughout the week leading up to it, he couldn’t help but feel proud of himself in those drives to the ever receding front lines. He was intoxicated by this sense of duty. He always dismissed it until he was in that squad car again, knowing that he was doing his part—making a difference. When they were about halfway to the front, Miller saw something moving alongside the car, and then another thing, and then another. He thought it must be rabbit season, and then there was a loud bang and a North Vietnamese soldier had shot out the front right tire of the squad car, which flipped over, relieved to relinquish the burden of so much duty in the passenger seat. Miller opened his eyes to see that the new recruit’s shin bone was sticking out of his leg. Miller knew that this was called a compound fracture because his fiancée was at med school when he left her. He had helped her study for a test that she had the next day, where she would use a pig as an example to see how they reacted to a compound fracture. The new recruit didn’t make any noise for a few moments. The new recruit suddenly awoke from his daze and frantically searched his pockets for a small lancet containing morphine, which he found and jammed into the thigh of the afflicted leg. He then seemed to calm down considerably, and he looked over to Miller who was observing quietly and wondering what the new recruit would do next. “Sir, do you have your service pistol on you right now?” asked the new recruit. “Yes, I think so,” responded Miller, retrieving the pistol from his belt. 65

“All right sir. The only way I’m gonna make it out of here is if you take that pistol, and you pop those VietCong over there. They’re coming quick, and I can only move so fast. You need to take ‘em out so that you can help me back to base.” The new recruit had a look of subdued terror in his eyes. He needed Miller, and Miller liked that. Miller’s father had told him stories of the last devastating war. He had told him about how he was fed up with the whole thing until he was loaded like a cow onto a small boat with a bunch of other cows that were all told to run at some Germans on a beach somewhere in France. Once he was reduced to a cow, cow he was, and he would pull any plow and even be butchered if that was written in the stars. Miller forgot all about his office, and saw himself as a cow. He cocked back his revolver for the first time in the whole war, and turned around, trying to acknowledge his duty to his country and to the new recruit. He saw more rustling, and so he held his revolver up higher. A few moments passed, and two North Vietnamese men emerged from the rustling bushes, aiming some kind of gun at Miller. He froze, and began to pray. He prayed to his Christian God something along the lines of “please God, turn me into a cow. All I want is to be a cow.” There was no response, and Miller, realizing he was not a cow but a man with a luxurious office, threw his loaded gun at the armed soldiers in front of him, and ran in the opposite direction, avoiding the eyes of the new recruit. He ran so hard that he practically ran all the way back to his office without taking a breath. And he stayed there, and was fine. Sam N.


Grotesque The hardwood antlers Twist and gnarl out from Over the deer’s velvety head, As though trying to enclose, entrap The air between them. If they did succeed, The air would be severed, cleaved, Incised to be strung back together All this over the tender, satiny fur And lustrous eyes Staring down at me from the wall. Sammy G.


A CPR Class One Sunday Mina Valdez took two turns forward and one back to read a paper that she hadn’t yet processed she passed. The paper read “CPR class - next turn,” and so Ms. Valdez retook the turn forward, slapping a hand, silvery with hand sanitizer from a dispenser at the front desk, to her cheek. Her cheeks were spotty and, zooming out from there, her face grew clear to reveal well-founded features, a surprisingly unbroken forehead, save a punch of praline concealer and further on a forty-five degree angle slope of hair fitted into a donut at the peak. Standing outside the door she took her skirt, which had made its rounds about her hips until the pockets fell at the front, and with one turn swooped it straight, a familiar gesture for Ms. Valdez and a strangely uncomfortable one for the instructor waiting behind her. The Aquatic Solutions CPR-First Aid class received a varied cast of New Yorkers—two yoga instructors, a nurse, two teenage camp counselors, an older guy taking care of his older father, and quite a few others who were convinced they had come of their own accord but were in fact just fulfilling job requirements. Ms. Valdez sat confidently. During the slideshow, she asked a freight of questions that didn’t quite apply to the subject and always seemed to start with some version of: “Excuse me. I’m a nanny for two young kids and I thought I’d take a class so their mama could trust me in case something happened, you know.” Then she would follow with whether she could use some healing superstition as an alternative, and then, with quite a lot of convincing, the instructor would explain to her why never to use such a practice. The instructor looked around seventeen, although very well and confidently spoken, which Ms. Valdez did not fail to point out and to which the young instructor answered: “I’m twenty six! I’m twenty six. I know, I know, I’m short and thank you.” At lunch, Ms. Valdez and the two teens were the only attendees to keep the room. The teens sat together, having teamed up against the rest of the class as the only youth there. In fact, the teens had begun to enjoy themselves in a conversation about movies and TV, and Ms. Valdez, sitting somewhat eerily behind them, didn’t fail to notice that the teens were forgetting their sandwiches. “I have a recommendation.” The teens turned to give Ms. Valdez their attention, crossing their hands to their thighs and letting out a little “hmm” without too much of a press of the lips. “A movie, a movie recommendation. I saw it this weekend. It just came out on Netflix. It’s very sad. It was called something like—Let Me Hear You.” “Oh yeah, someone else recommended that to me too.” 68

“Yes, yes. It’s very good. You know what happened to those poor kids—terrible. You know, it’s a true story. The police were very bad too, they did nothing for those kids. The pictures I’ve seen are bloody, yes they’re bad.” “I’ll watch it. Sounds moving.” “Hmm, hmm yes.” The teens turned back and, picking up their sandwiches from their laps, ate them without pause. Ms. Valdez, satisfied, returned to her sandwich as well, taking a crisp bite and a look at the rounded indent. After lunch, the class began to practice on the dolls and Ms. Valdez waited her turn as one of the yoga instructors began her compressions. Taking a lean on the wall, Ms. Valdez imagined what it might be like to give CPR to a real person and from there, she embarked on a little fictitious scenario. An attendee dropped to the ground, holding their hands up in the air of course and trying to sweep the escaping air back into them. It would be the man with the senile father, because he looked actually quite old himself. The class would jump up and down, yelling at the instructor to help him, but she would instead turn to Ms. Valdez and let her know, “It’s your turn.” No she wouldn’t panic, she’d save that for later, and her questions for the instructor of course. No, she would bend carefully over the man, unconscious now, and begin her thirty compressions to the beat of “Staying Alive.” “A little further down, and make sure they are firm,” the instructor would instruct and Ms. Valdez would follow through flawlessly, offering three breaths to the man and then beginning another thirty compressions. When he coughed out and sprung up back to life, he would look into Ms. Valdez’s eyes and see her: “Mina.” Ms. Valdez stayed the whole six hours, sticking around for the AED lesson as well. I caught her after at the trains, buying a metrocard. She was trying to feed her change into the slot but it kept dropping to the floor and she would scramble to pick it up before it sped under the machine. “Sorry, sorry, give me a second,” she kept saying to the girl waiting behind her. Sydney S.


Standing slackly in your mother’s doorway, I was only one bit, too late, already. It would look something like the pixelated silhouette of a girl. All around me was this fuzziness, this seemingness. I learned that your eyes only play a role in ten percent of what you see, the rest is just filler. Seeing: just an idea. In short, I was afraid. I went outside and was afraid of the houses, the women inside them in their white nightgowns, the grass, the bugs with pinchers, the color red, the redness of the weather, the people and the whites in their eyes which reminded me of frothed eggs./ I went upstairs and was afraid of the traffic, the cars and all the places the people inside them were going, and at such a pace. I went downstairs and was afraid of the worms, the humidity of the darkness, the dark, the feeling of pressure and pressing (one second you touch my hand: a fraction of a second later my brain experiences the touch: a fraction of a second later I realize it is you. What happens in those fractions of seconds? Where are you then? Is that pressure or press?), the smell of old and dead things./ I went back upstairs and watched the cars, you came and sat down next to me. The cars relaxed, the sun rose, the clock made its rounds, the hummingbirds of the world went to bed. You touched my shoulder, I know because I was in the room, and I realized I was not going anywhere. Zibia B.


Doll-Framed Castle There are random people continuously filtering in and out of the apartment. Marlo sits on the kitchen counter looking from above at the apartment. He addresses the audience, only the audience (praising all the people for their decisions, and ignoring their humanity). Marlo: Wait… (someone walks into the apartment and sits on the floor). Look at how joyful they seem, look at how they are practically floating above the cold wood. This floor that picks up dust, that envies nothing, and that I have the seemingly everlasting privilege to walk across over and over and over and over again. I would stand on it. In fact! One stands on it and is glued so completely that it is a pristine representation of home. (The person gets up and runs out of the apartment. Marlo runs to the door.) No! Why did they leave? Come! Stay! You are welcome! Here in my doll-framed castle, you are secure. (Another person walks very slowly into it. Marlo tracks them with his eyes, then thoughtfully climbs back onto the kitchen counter. The person whistles quietly, opens the window, and stands on the keyboard bench reaching for the ceiling. They are an inch away from touching the ceiling, but they stand there reaching still.) I can hear the music from below me and them. Do you hear the keyboard’s symphony? (No response.) Do you hear not the music that I relish in? Do you hear the cries from the street instead? Hear the sizzle of my pan when I cook my meals that sustain. Then, reach again for the soundproof ceiling. You can reach it, I assure you. I can reach the ceiling. (Marlo goes over and tries to pick up the person to get them to touch the ceiling. They can’t touch the ceiling. The person is also far too heavy for Marlo to carry. The person hobbles down from the piano bench, closes the window, and runs out of the apartment. Marlo stands on the stool and touches the ceiling.) See! I can touch this great eggshell colored shield. This thing is said to protect us from the falling rain, when in reality, if the ceiling were to fall it would not be wet drops that fall onto my floor, the keyboard and its bench, the orange -mesh futon, my grey, shiny, and spotted counter, my face, or the window sill. Without a ceiling on my castle, the people from the apartments on higher floors would topple into this home. My sanctuary would be crowded with people of such great fortune. Their privilege to drop into my doll-framed castle—the best privilege sought. (Marlo laughs. The door opens, another person walks in and sits at the table underneath the light.) Oh! I have to go. I have to welcome them in the way that my apartment does. So now, let’s see. (Marlo stares at the person who is still in their chair.) It is too bad that they’ve sat at the sad end of the table that is a bit lopsided and the side that has a scratch. I don’t take ownership of it. Regardless, it’s lucky for them


to step foot in here. (Marlo goes to open the window. The window opens inwards (like a door). While opening the window he knocks over two picture frames that were on the sill.) How lucky it is to sit at this table and feel the metallic breeze of this grey day. And look, this table has four head seats. (Marlo sits across from the person at the table. They stare into each other’s eyes. The person gets up and leaves the apartment.) No! Why did they leave? Come! Stay! You are welcome! Here in my doll-framed castle, you are secure. The End. Soleil P.


Prospect in June It wasn’t supposed to rain tonight But it rained in Massachusetts I sat, cross-connection, taking it all in The air heavy on my shoulders Stepping past the park Old meets new on nights like this Close like the touch of a lover Or air before a storm And walks by the park prove surprising Sometimes He has not forgotten And here, where drops were foreseen to fall, Nothing touches my cheek I hear voices through wires and laugh At empty air and my imagination I build you besides me out of the plane trees and pavement, linking arms with Summer, breathing hot down my neck


Old meets new on nights like this He remembers Blossoms blushing deep as cheeks Pink from lost ways and bike rides I should have appreciated more I know But laughter comes from Massachusetts, Or so I’ve learned in midnights by the window, watching the neighbor’s cats prowl moonlit Disguising my baggy eyes with their howls I wake mornings and find you in yolks the color of contentment I am yet naive, but morning light Never lit anything in my belly Until now And I want to know if it could start a fire If I rose to meet it next to you Skye R.


New York As we descend I lift my nose from the final page of a book that changed my life From the porthole I see My city My glorious city The hustle and bustle of the millions of people the millions of stories not yet visible from this distance. But I can see the rivers that shape it the islands that make it the bridges that connect them And the buildings that jut out from these islands, daring to touch the sky. The tallest ones cluster around each other as if each one pushes those around it to greater and greater heights Yet something is wrong. Something is oh so very wrong. We land and exit the airport. We call an Oober We ride on it across the Goethals Bridge To enter Staten Island from New Jersey The literal gateway into the city Well, Staten Island at least Then we zip through Staten Island on the Parkway bearing its name Barely having to look at the island that is barely a borough. Then to enter New York To enter my home town. To enter my home town I must cross the bridge built by that man Before I left for Europe I knew nothing of this man On some level I believed that my city had always been the way it had been Or at least after colonization it had grown naturally to the point it was to day, With humans interacting with each other and buildings and neighborhoods slowly forming. When I left I believed my city had been created by its citizens at least on some degree 75

When I thought about how history has shaped my city, if I ever did, it was only that everything happens for a reason and certain buildings were built at some points based on certain interests, be they benevolent or malign. Little did I know Oh little did I know Oh how little I knew. As a leftist I had discarded the idea of big man history At Least I was winning my internal war against it History was largely shaped by movements and actions of large groups of people There were oppressive institutions but they were institutions not people But as I crossed the Verrazano bridge Into my borough My borough. And drove Or rather was driven As he was driven Across the Belt Parkway I had to grapple with the fact that all of it Every single thing I crossed was built by one man Robert Moses I see him I see him everywhere I see him on the roads I walk I see him in the parks I play in I see him in the bridges I cross I see him in children’s playgrounds I go by He is a parasite across my city I see him in the shadows where I now know communities once grew. I see him in the 20 minute delays on the subway to school Subways he bankrupted to fund his automotive aggressions


I see him in the route West to Jersey City and beyond as explained above I see him in the route East into Long Island out of the City I see him on the Long Island State Parkway I see him on the Long Island Expressway I see him on the Central Parkway I see him on Atlantic Avenue On Meadowbrook Parkway On Wantagh State Parkway On Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway On Sunset Meadow State Parkway On Southern State Parkway And on Robert Moses Causeway I see him everywhere across that Island that he built He is the reason for Long Island Suburbia He is the reason for endless lines of traffic, For the lack of local New York Food For the lack of independent urban centers on the island and thus For the crowding of my city streets. I see him in the route North to The Mainland and escape On the Brooklyn Queens Expressway The FDR Drive The Harlem River Drive The Henry Hudson Parkway On the Henry Hudson and University heights bridges More than both combined I see him on the monstrosity that is the Tri Borough For his Authority bore that name. Even on the mainland there is no escape On the New England Thruway Hutchinson River Parkway Bronx River Parkway Sprain Parkway And Saw Mills River Parkway I see him in these places and more There is no escape from this man 77

Beyond the city his grip stretches throughout the State. The fascist highway system he built, the first of its kind, was replicated throughout the nation. I am surrounded by the myriad atrocities of one man, atrocities that could not have happened without him He surrounds me And when I see this man I see my face He is a white Jewishish upper class power hungry male who began his path to power militantly ideological. In trying to change the system he became the system And his corpse still rules the town I call home He still rules this city. His Parks are open sores His Highways scars of neighborhoods The cables of his bridges pulling my city apart The faceless colorless red brick buildings graves of communities ripped from their land. And I live at the center In one of the few neighborhoods practically untouched by Moses The empire that he built with steel and blood was made to serve people living in neighborhoods like mine. And his empire still stands strong across a city I cannot ever truly call mine. Oliver Y.


Thanksgiving the devil calls your name. and so you overcome inertia by applying force, and leave the comfort of salty sheets and sticky warmth. the morning passes with cold cuts cold showers and chicory coffee. you force yourself to go outside, to ride the writhing winds of overachievement and anonymity. to be poisoned -- or cleansed -- by the air, saturated with rosemary, tarragon, and helium from the Macy’s Parade. and then the preparations, tiramisu and tofu bolognese because you were told to always be unique. and then Tupperware, tin foil, lukewarm tea and Biology. driving down the highway at ninety did stars always look so bright? you feel it for a brief moment the interdependence and then it’s gone. like the rayon sleeve of the cashier’s dress as she whisked away the money. the night passes like the morning with cold cuts cold wine and drunk inlaws. and then finally what feels like eternal sleep until the devil calls your name. Naya M.


Seated Woman in a Garden, 1938 I see contorted shapes and convoluted beauty: Diamonds fly through seas of blue and green leaves, angles shoot out, a triangular breeze, skipping and sambaing below the mambo sun. Vines grow in zig-zags, jutting up amongst the grass, as heels dig with hallucinated click-clacks into the soft dirt, digging, digging‌ Imagine a woman, sitting on a throne, shapes shining out from her body, half a head turned, half a head straight: this is what I see. Max K.



Not Just Abstract Congrats small trodden sneaker thou hast travelled well And in many places thou look mean Have you hardened skin and ground repelled And gotten used to space and in-between If only you had known what we have borne The way in which our minds affect our peace For you have only through your skin been torn While we our hardened minds having been breached Though us and you I see are one the same We’ve done it all together through the walls And as I’ve said before not just through rain But in the home the work the hate the brawn Alas I must now thank thee bid adieu

Lukas K.


For I know of the thing you’re bound to do

Used Cars for Sale “Let’s keep looking!” Kate heard the familiar voice from outside the window. She wriggled down further into the footwell of the 1984 Pontiac sedan, making herself as small as possible. The car smelled like death. Kate didn’t know for sure what death smelled like, but imagined it would be something similar to faded leather and petrol. Whenever a family member died she always forgot to pay attention to the smell. That was the worst part of the funerals. Watching the casket lower into the ground and realizing, “Shit. I forgot to breathe in through my nose.” Kate sat up a tiny bit, looking out at the search party receding into the horizon. “Three people? That’s it?” she thought to herself. “I wonder if more would come to my funeral.” She stared into the beige ceiling, following every stitch and seam to its inconsequential end. Slowly, Kate drifted off into an uncomfortable sleep, flitting from dream to dream without any real purpose or direction. She awoke to the sound of the radio tuning into 97.3 FM Beatrice, Nebraska public radio and the feeling of the road grumbling beneath her. Kate learned that day, among other things, never to fall asleep in the footwell of the back seat of someone else’s car, because you could find yourself barreling down a highway in rural Nebraska when you wake up. The part of Kate’s brain that doesn’t panic switched off, so she promptly sat up in the back seat and let out a blood-curdling scream. Owen, the scrawny man driving the car, looked behind him and returned the favor. They screamed together, in perfect harmony for just a moment, when Owen realized he was drifting into the opposite lane and swerved back into his own, causing Kate to fly forehead-first into the starboard door. “What the—who the—what—” Owen was cut off by the wail of a siren behind him. “Oh no. Oh no no no.” Owen looked in the back seat again to make sure this wasn’t a bad hallucination, but sure enough there Kate was, this time bleeding from a gash on her forehead. “I can’t go to jail,” he said out loud as he pulled the Pontiac over to a dirt patch on the side of the road. “I was just taking a nap, I didn’t realize—” Kate stammered. The police cruiser idled behind them, the officer taking down the plate number of the sedan from inside his car. “Taking a nap?! This is...this is my car!” Their conversation was cut off by the tap of a baton on the window. ⇌ Mort S. was anxious to close the paperwork on this deal. He had been showing the 83

same guy around for nearly an hour, subject to his endless vacillation about minute differences between crappy old used cars. The man stopped Mort in his tracks. “You know what? What’s the nicest car you have here? I don’t care about the price.” “Uh…” Mort scratched his balding head. “Nicest? I guess that one over there isn’t too bad. It’s the most expensive.” Mort pointed across the lot. “Great. I’ll take it. Can I drive it out tomorrow morning if I bring cash?” Mort laughed a raspy, heavy laugh. “You can drive it out right now if you have cash. Hell, I won’t even ask for insurance.” Mort pulled out a notepad and clicked a ballpoint pen into existence. “What’s the name?” The man made eye contact with the car as he answered “Owen.” “Owen what?” “What time do you open tomorrow?” “9:30. What did you say your last name was?” “9:30? I’ll be there.” Owen walked away. At five in the morning, before the sun rose, Owen snuck onto the lot with a crowbar, planning to break into the 1984 Pontiac sedan he had admired the previous day, but the door was already open. “Nebraskans,” he chuckled to himself as he sat behind the wheel, the key already dangling from the ignition. He tossed the crowbar in the passenger seat, took off, and started fumbling with the radio. ⇌ The search party consisted of Mort, his best and only salesperson Alonzo Garcia, and Monica Tollman, the woman who had run his back office for the last decade, since even before his wife Lydia had died. Mort pulled himself together. He was supposed to be the leader here. Monica rested her hand gingerly on Mort’s broad shoulder. “Maybe it’s time we wrap this thing up,” she purred. “I’m sure she’ll be home any minute now. She’s probably just out with some boy.” “You can go home,” he said, shaking her off as they passed the 1984 Pontiac sedan sitting calmly in the same spot it had been in for two years. Mort felt like he needed to say something more to mask the panic boiling under his skin. “Let’s keep looking!” Lucien B.-T.


honey bees spend all spring gathering nectar to make honey which feeds the colony and on the border of winter end of harvest season the beekeeper comes to take his dues months of work the kind that kills a worker bee in just 4 weeks scooped out and crushed for tea at night or those stroop waffles taxing them of their resources for what? see to say you were like a beekeeper would be to give you too much credit more like a death’s head hawk moth 85

covered in a similar familiar scent and a shitty costume the moth knocks back 4 or 5 pockets of honey it does not go unnoticed hours of work gone (it took me 6 months to repair a bruised heart and then ohyou came to push me back not to square one but probably square three or four it was enough though i carry my wounded heart swaddled and handled gently )


the bees refill the pockets and move on there are bigger things to worry about the beekeeper will come soon Jessina N.


One night I rode the bridge alone. (on my bike) it was the sweetest type of cold The kind that wakes All the blood in your bones And there was a small amount of rain Small enough to cause a stir in the air of the city - you know When the pitter-patter makes a particular pattern on the sidewalk The swoosh of cars on puddles. I rode my bike, between the swooshing and the patterns Alone. It was late. And I remember huffing And puffing up that bridge all the way back to my sweet Manhattan home. And thinking New York City has raised all the bones in my body, Adjusted every vertebrae, held every hand, snapped every bone, Grown every hair, watched loose pieces of me fall, hit the ground Between The dog shit And the Chewing gum One night I walked home I had a blister Tight red skin hot on the inside of my shoe It was cold but I liked it - you know When you haven’t been anything for hours and Cold feels okay hot itchy red skin stuck Between Ankle bone And Leg I have disappeared on this pavement before I walk as quickly as I can holding my arms loose against tight chest Blowing kisses in windows When you’ve been nothing for hours And I remember thinking I put myself here Between 88

Earlobes And Clavicle I nestled myself Between My own voice And Scar tissue I put myself here I remember thinking When you’ve been nothing for days when nothing escapes But breath and pieces of lost heart I have loved you On this pavement before Between Hot itchy red skin And The cold Langston S.


En-route He will drive himself holy, his hair casing his eyes over till all he can see is red of the truck, lights ahead of the air, coughing with pollution of his hands, chaffed from the wind by the open window his dreams begin to coagulate, to condensate the glass and make his route catch inwards, from the weight, from the height of his aches. He needed to go, he knows that, but on the road as his beard cuts scraggly from hotel soap his investment in his craft begins to dwindle. He, Cosco-made, 75 up driving, He, 5 foot 9 and counting, He, who left his wife at home to fulfill his need for the drum of wheels on asphalt, the shape of the sky in the morning when he can almost imagine his child’s face echoed in the half-plastic duvet. He wants to stand atop his trailer and yell, “I am Joseph, sacker of neon-signed motels. I am the man who litters his landscape with the edges of states he has only visited in a rolling metal box, I want to immerse myself in the wine dark sand turn my skin blotted and sink, sink till my face sees the sky tinted rose and


I forget for a moment that home is 1,000 miles away and my child is three and still does not know my name.� The New Mexico sand stretches long to his right, his eyes reflect the grain till he can see the cost loneliness has pulled from his soul. His truck is the same shade as the dawn back home, and over the phone he can almost hear his wife’s voice reflecting its color darker, darker still. Ayla S.


From the perspective of Richard the Third There’s no feeling quite like walking through the forest the night after a gentle rain. Leaves don’t crack under your footfalls; they conform to them, pressing into the mud, leaving echoes of the day’s anguish in the night’s peace, relaying the path with every lonesome traveler. I’m here on one of these nights. It smells the way only a sleeping wood tucked in by rain smells. There is that strange energy in the air, the earth seems to be remaking itself anew, and there is so much listless hope in that rebirth. It invites quietly that I might be another self tomorrow, my sins and its scars washed away together in the rain. Something new will happen tonight. I feel it in my sternum. A new feeling that’s waiting to be born. It slowly spreads as I get closer—burrowing deeper into my heart and spreading out like lightning burning red branches into my skin. It’s taking root, that new desire, and I’m beginning to know, in the way I know someday life will be worth living even if it’s not today, that what could happen and what will happen are almost the same now. I feel the air lay hands on my cheeks and bring the red out from them. The ground starts to make itself resolute against my feet. I feel the small stones that were below the surface lay themselves on the base of my shoes. Each step I remind my body, which had begun to feel so ethereal that I am a poor amalgam of skin and sinew and bone. My right knee lands but is caught unkindly by the floor, and that shock stiffens my body. I feel the deepening night’s cold snatch at the nape of my neck pulling me against purpose. Then I’m finally back where I was, and I see the little shock of string against the earth. I follow its irregular winds eventually punctuated with small unsuccessful bites. I then, of course, saw the little fellow. Its body amber, with two black streaks that contain a brush of white . Three legs set against the ground all the muscles inside strained from an unending day in the fear of an ending, that was too soon to come. The fourth leg was held back from its company, tethered, held awkwardly bent or broken by contraption. So I cut the wire and swept the chipmunk up in two coldly shaking hands. That opened the eyes, as reflex began attempting to find an escape from the second prison. I move my thumbs carefully over and upon the head, and with the fourth leg laying lame against my palm, it relents. I can only focus on those eyes. They remember the rain better than any of the frantic moments had after that. They are so black that they seem to remind the night that it will always be a small and fleeting darkness. When they flutter open and closed, I remember and forget the image of my own eyes. Holding it is like laying your hand low on your chest and trying to force fingers under a rib. There is something unique about feeling each vertebra of something and knowing that all the pain it feels will run across those paths. Setting my fingers at opposite ends from each other I lay its frame half on each end. As I slowly and experimentally begin to press fingers alongside it, I feel the insulation that the fur provides. Its graying pink skins steady me against the cool. The excitement I 92

feel subsides and parlays into cherishing focus. This moment is not to be forgotten. A final look into delicate eyes, a breath, and the process begins. At first, I attempt simply to twist the thing, but rain slicked hair provides no purchase, so I bury my nails into the creature. I feel the sanguine fluid gently run onto my hands. I can see them much more clearly now. All the lines of my palm are deepened magnificently. There is good augury in them. It is such a welcome warmness drifting to my wrist. At one moment it stops and pools against my most prominent vein, and finally overwhelming it, I realize in a funny way this is the closest I’ve ever been to something. That moment of solemnity marked on the wood with the first drop of blood onto the ground, I slowly twist the thing apart. I feel its legs kicking out even the desperate movement of the broken one, weakly protesting its earlier failures. I notice the delicate viscera washing into my hands. I feel the skin and fur coming away together, a strange unity in the unmaking of the rest of the creature. I take special care though not to hamper the spin which remains alight with thousands of voices shouting the same message. I lay the thing on the ground, watching its final agonies. Only I cannot hear it. I only hear the little breeze of wind, the creaking of my bed, and my eyes peeling themselves open. I cannot hear until I stretch the same hand older now and with lines deeper cut to my bedside. I look into the jewels set in the retrieved crown, and they remind me of my own eyes. I place it carefully on my head and I can hear again. Brothers and children and rivals and kinsmen, a chorus calls after me. a liturgy of harrowed bones stretched out before me. I recall with relish each event prescribed a voice, and finally most discordant of all the death yet to come, I hear my own voice. The sound of the ruined instrument, the vocal cords stretched across a mangled frame, lungs always compressed by a hunched chest. A discarded voice that here has found its harmony. Russell B.


not as if it wasn’t as if. and it wasn’t in spite of tone without text shed its skin in mhms and oks hairless legs surging against silk nightgown, latissimus dorsi extricating themselves from the hemlines. consonants like pop rocks, hissing, spitting, venomous in one ear and out of the other, disowning its acerbic residue in the space between. Bitter Bitch, Spit It Out! silence could be worse but volume will kick at the comforters, plush and fragrant. we settle on a whisper, perching over steaming mugs as the rest of the world pounds on our windows, begging to hear, begging to belong within. whispering works -- the lats settle as the lungs say “no more than this.” the body is content, tender. whispering works. it wasn’t as if the neighbors could hear us. and it wasn’t in spite of ourselves whispering works because, as the tone turns textured, the sound of your own voice is forgotten with mine. monotonous, we slide beneath the belly together, passing the wrench and the towel as we crank the pipes back into place. we slide out and try the ignition that bitter exhaust bloats itself into our faces, filling our lung, taunting us will it work again? we try again. one more time, monotonous, merged, amassed. we slide back under “hand me the screwdriver” a notch out of place, a bolt or nut whispers settle like dust -- better than a kick, better than exhaust, better than nothing Bitter Bitch, Spit It Out! we slide out once again hand in hand, thighs slick with industry


it wasnt as if. And it wasn’t inspite of key in place, turned, and a hum. gentle purr. tenderness, at last. whispering works because, as the rest of the world pounds on our windows, begging to hear, and the pipes break down and your latissimus canvas for their freedom, we lose our voices and merge. Sage F.


Sword’s Eye, Chapter 1 Looking back, Wilbur could see what Kathy was saying. There was little he could remember- little of anything, to be honest. The concept made him fidget nervously in his seat which, in turn, caused Kathy to lean forward, an intensity in her eye that made Wilbur deeply uncomfortable. “You need to dig deeper. Really try,” she said, staring him dead in the eye. Wilbur tried to keep eye contact. He really did try, it was something he had been determined to perfect since he started seeing Kathy on Wednesdays. He had thought he had gotten better at it, surely, but his eyes kept darting around the room, from Kathy to the clock on the far wall, though the numbers made no sense. He dragged his eyes back to Kathy. “That’s it, I swear,” he said. Kathy leaned back again. “You’re joking.” “I’m really not.” The clock was a simple, analogue thing: plain white face, thin black rectangles for hands, numbers around its rim. There was a neutralizer ring, small, blue and glowing in its center— for safety’s sake, Wilber thought, analogue clocks are dangerous but not as bad as digital ones. “So you remember nothing?” Wilbur was drawn away from the clock again. He was embarrassed by the answer he 96

had given and the answer he would continue to give, but there was no use lying, especially to his therapist, who he was certain was somehow staring into his soul with the intensity of her gaze. “Nothing from before he got sick, no” he said, rolling the twisted remains of a paperclip between his fingers. “No good memories? Do you remember ever having fun with him.” “I mean, yeah, as a child he would play with me, but I don’t necessarily remember that, at least not in a direct sense, if you know what I mean.” Kari nodded. “But you remember him throwing things.” “Again, I remember remembering it. There’s a dent in his and mom’s room wall, where he threw a phone, I think. I think he got angry a lot, but he never hurt us, though he might’ve threatened mom, but I only know that from her stories. She complained about him. A lot. She doesn’t complain about him anymore, obviously, but back when he was alive basically all she’d ever say to me about him was how horrible he was.” “Do you have any other memories of him?” “I remember the days leading up to his...” Wilbur found himself choking on the word, though it was easy enough to say in his head. Thank god Kathy stepped in. “Nothing else?” “Not really.” There was a moment of awkward silence while Kathy wrote something on a piece of printer paper. Was there a reason the clock needed a neutralizer? Had something happened in the past that would warrant one, or was it just a safety measure? With digital clocks, this wouldn’t be a question, but with analog you were usually safe— “Wilbur, this session confirms something. You are a master at blocking things out” Wilbur blushed. “It’s not a compliment,” said Kathy. “Oh, uh, yeah.” “Listen,” Kathy put her paper down and leaned forward again, “you’re not gonna want to hear this, but we have to start working this out. All this repression has served you to this point, but now that you have some free time you’re gonna have to finally face it.” Wilbur bent the paperclip into a W and twirled it between his fingers. It made the 3D, blurred image of a vase. “I’ve been trying,” he said, looking down, “I went to the museum last week, and I-” “The one where your dad worked?” “Yeah. I went there, and I couldn’t remember the layout of the place at all, so I just kept getting lost, and I kept running into his coworkers, and they remembered me but I 97

didn’t remember them, and they just kept… I don’t know, it just- it just made things worse.” “It’s gotta get worse before it can get better.” “Yeah, but-” Kathy’s voice tone dropped suddenly from a suggestion to a command. “Things are not as good as they could be. You have to stop depending on this coping mechanism.” Wilbur sighed and put the paperclip down, picking at his cuticles instead, “Yeah, yeah, I- I’ll try.” Kathy’s voice softened. “You’re not alone in this, you know that?” “Yeah, but sometimes it feels that way.” “I know it does.” At this point, Kathy stood, sliding her chair backwards as a subtle gesture that the session was over. Wilbur picked up. He stood. “Thanks, Kathy, this really helps a lot,” he said, his hand on the doorknob. Kathy stopped him from leaving. “There’s one thing I want you to do. I know going to the museum was rough, but can you try again before I see you next? Or at least spend time in his room?” “Yeah, sure, I think so.” “Try looking through some of his stuff. Maybe that’ll bring the memories back.” “Maybe.” Kathy clapped him on the shoulder. “You’re doing well, Wilbur. I’ll see you next week.” Wilbur said his goodbyes and with that, along with the heavy weight of his task, he stepped out into the night. Wendy D.


My relationship with hair is a queer thing My pompadour is my personality. I shave the sides of my head to leave little spikes that I run my hands over. As a toddler, I stood on my dad’s chair while he sat in front of me and I pretended to be a barber like Bugs Bunny in the “Rabbit of Seville.” I squirted air shampoo on his smooth little hairs, receding year by year. He doesn’t have spikes like me, instead his shaved head is like satin. When I was eight, I cut my hair to complement my tomboy period. I wore cargo pants and loose t-shirts and only shopped in the boys’ section. Before I knew what butch was, I wouldn’t have passed the 1950s three-articles-of-women’s-clothing rule. Reflecting on my gender performance, masculinity, and Spock sideburns, I see unconscious clues to my sexuality. Later, I dyed a streak of blue through my long bangs; I looked like a rockstar, a rebellious nine-year old who wasn’t actually rebellious because my mom helped me dye my hair every month My drastic haircuts over the years all captured an anime tv show feel. Spikes, wild colors, bangs draped over one eye. But the only anime I watched as a kid was Miyazaki and those characters’ hair are smooth blobs of color. Now, my hair is long and voluminous on top. To keep it that way I do the classic brush hand-through-hair that I learned from Cher in Clueless when I was 10. I envied Alicia Silverstone’s long fluffy blonde locks and lamented my hair’s lack of volume and toss-ability that resulted from my mom’s homemade haircuts. A family friend gave me her high quality straight blond wig when I was four. It never matched my too golden skin tone, not made for blonde hair. But nonetheless I pretended to be a princess, a white princess. Dionne in Clueless taught me about “polyester hair” and at nine I watched Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair with my mom; I thought black hair is really beautiful, so at that time I wished I had an afro. Throughout middle school, I hated my gravity-obeying, staticky, home-cut hair, sometimes spiced up by a bob whose tips would end up all pointing to the left before a month passed.


Amelie, lovely Audrey Tautou, last year gave me hope for a stylish Parisian bob with a flaring out back and baby bangs, but again that was white hair, not my silky, limp Chinese strands. Last Spring my mom faced the unknown of highlighting the roundness of her moon face with a pixie cut. The style that her ma had discouraged her from her whole life and so my mom chopped toxicity and fear from her head. Over spring break I watched Breathless and Jean Seberg and her assimilation into Parisian culture and her lovely haircut and her boyish-feminine charm inspired my own pixie cut. After my pixie cut, my hair evolved and is now the androgynous, growing extension of myself. Thisbe W.


Homework It started when I walked through the stairwell door and down the corridor that led to my English classroom. There was a nagging tug at the bottom of my stomach, telling me that something didn’t fit. The chipped-paint walls and rusty lockers looked scornful instead of familiar, like they, and the school, knew something I didn’t. As I neared the door to the classroom and noticed the group of students clustered around it as if they were in orbit, the tug grew stronger. It was just before I walked within earshot that the flash of recognition came. My first thought was of the teacher announcing the homework two days before, his hand scribbling the page numbers on the chalkboard and his voice specifying the amount of annotation required. From that my mind jumped like a cricket to an image of my organizer, its blue cover and the space inside for English homework. But it was an image from the past, because I hadn’t even looked at that little black-lined rectangle at the top of each page for several days. After racing through that sequence my mind rushed to anger at myself, not even for being careless—at that point my thoughts were still too basic for that—but for the simple fact of having failed, no matter what that was. It was at that moment, in the middle of this series of mind-racking, that a classmate said hello to me. In my time within myself I had made it to the outer edge of the classroom’s solar system. As if waking up from a nightmare, it took me a few moments to adjust back to the real world, but I eventually replied with some polite formality that could be mindlessly put together and thrust out at the person requesting it. 101

The classmate nodded and turned away to talk with someone else. Back to my insides. The tug in my abdomen became outright stretching, and my racing heart seemed to be pulling my entire torso in the other direction. I now thought about the reading itself; it had been twenty pages, I remembered. Now hopelessness started to replace anger, a mixed feeling of dread and despair at what faced me inside. I pictured myself shrinking to avoid the teacher’s notice, my horror when he did see me, and my pitiful attempt to explain myself or fake having read the chapter. I looked at the clock in the hallway—it was one minute after class was supposed to start. Bonus time, I thought to myself, but there was nothing I could do. Now it was real guilt that started to overtake the fear in my mind, guilt at having prematurely lost a period of English class, diminished my teacher’s impression of me, all the stuff they say to you about academics. Now it was two minutes after class—I could have at least sK. med several pages or scribbled some nonsense in the margins by this time, anything to help my case when I did face the teacher. By now I was aware enough of my surroundings to hear the kids around me talking about the chapter: someone died… someone else declared their love—the usual newsflashes, except now every major plot point was a fresh blow to my chances of making it through this class. Finally, four minutes after class was to start the teacher arrived, running breathlessly from the stairs down the hallway. I seemed to float through the door into the classroom. It was a creative-writing day. Sammy G.


This Love’s Sweet Like Tooth Decay1 Awake not, she was, tranquil, languid eyelids, disciples of distress and detest. Tired toes and thighs tacked to the seat she sat in so long, slick with the sweat of heat-stick sleepers before her who took only ten minutes to clean their teeth before beginning the tender, teething day on time, trekking to the train with relief, but also resistant reluctance, for gums are ripe but raw and red in the morning— especially for her, after years of coffee, orange juice and the juicy orange she loved but less and less over time, as luck had it, as acid and sugar cemented lips together and corroded crowns chronically. She was not awake, and hadn’t been in years, was force-fed Florida oranges. The subsequent throbbing pain in her cheek a reminder of the corrosive properties of citric acid and nothing more; throbbing most intensely Friday Nights (Sober Saturdays too) and whenever others casually consumed clementines around her. You didn’t think she would ever wake up,


Cosmo Pyke, Social Sites 103

stick her fingers in her mouth and pull, thought she would just live with your Persistent Pounding, but she found that even the cheapest flights to anywhere but Florida were fatally overpriced; instead wrought the molar clean from ripe raw red gums, placed it in your palm. Mia R.


Forgetting the Sun Remember spring days of brisk air and sunbeams streaming into your window, Making patterns on your couch and dangling feet. Lean into your pillow and sink into the cushion soaking up the past bodies that have lain on this couch on other sunny days, the sun dancing on their toes just as it does yours. Blink for a second and you are caught in a dream Forgetting all about the days the sun forgot to dance on your toes. Maeve M.


Lou sat on the maroon loveseat with the thick covering of plastic that Rita insisted on having on all of their upholstered pieces. He adjusted the volume of the television to 40 and wound his hearing aid as high as it could go. Rita brought a tray from the kitchen. The tray had a few Triscuits, some tuna salad, and some bread and butter pickles that had an icy bite as they had just been transferred from the freezer to the fridge. She placed it on the coffee table in front of Lou’s feet. He adjusted himself to reach a Triscuit and heard the plastic squish under him a bit as he did. Rita turned her head tensely and started for a moment disturbed and turned back. “We should make our way to the Kroger around 3,” Rita said. Lou nodded and adjusted himself back into his seat. “I don’t know if we need more Raisin Bran. Did you finish the box this morning?” Lou nodded and turned the dial of his hearing aid down. “And milk, did the doctor say 1 percent or 2?” Lou’s nod was interrupted by Rita, “Oh, it was 2, wasn’t it.” Lou nodded. They kept watching and by the time 2:45 had come around, the tuna fish was gone, the Triscuits were mere crumbs and only the pickles remained. “I suppose I should gather my things,” said Rita. “Lou, are you ready to go?” Lou nodded. “I just need to take my pill. Rita, grab me a Diet Ginger Ale, will you?” He stood up, reached for the tray and shuffled behind Rita to the kitchen. “I’ll wash this up when we get home,” she said. Lou nodded. She opened the fridge and passed Lou a Diet Ginger Ale. “Thank you.” Rita walked out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Lou could hear the creaking of the wood floor as Rita took steps. He walked over to the chest by the door and reached for his baseball cap. He wiped his combover down and placed his cap on his head. He put his wallet in his back pocket and adjusted his suspenders over his T-shirt. He looked out of the window to check the weather just as Rita walked in. “All set?” he asked. Rita nodded. He typed in the code of the burglar alarm and opened the door. They both stepped out of the house and shut the door. “Oh wait,” said Rita. “I forgot my umbrella.” “It doesn’t look like rain.” countered Lou. “But my weather report said 20% at 4.” “There’s an umbrella in the car.” “But that one is real heavy.” “All right,” said Lou. Rita rummaged through her bag for the keys, opened the door, and punched in the code again and walked to the coat closet. Upon reaching the coat closet, she realized she had 106

left her umbrella upstairs but didn’t want to walk all the way up, so she typed in the code and shut the door. “What happened?” asked Lou. “The one in the trunk will do,” replied Rita. “All right,” said Lou. He got into the driver’s seat and her into the passenger and he turned the car on. They drove out of the carport and down the driveway. “We really need to get the pine needles out of the gutters,” Rita said. “I’ll call them tomorrow.” “Tell them not to send Jerry. He was no good last time.” “I don’t think it was Jerry’s fault, sweetheart. I think pine needles just fall fast and often. After he was done, the gutter was all clean. He showed me a photo.” “What do we need to get at the grocery?” “I’ll get the milk, butter, table water crackers, and grape jelly. You get the Raisin Bran you want, bananas, Bisquick mix, oh, and bacon too.” “Alright. We also need dill pickles. The cut kind.” “You get those because you know the brand to get.” Lou and Rita pulled into the Kroger parking lot. “Park close to the entrance so we don’t have to walk far with the groceries.” Lou nodded. He parked in the handicap space one car away from the entrance. He unclipped his seatbelt and opened his door. There was a shopping cart next to them which he leaned on to help himself get out of the car with. Before Rita could lift herself out of her seat, her phone began to ring. She rummaged around in her purse again only to find her phone in her jacket pocket. She answered and began talking. “Daddy and I are at the grocery, and then we’re headed to the dry cleaner and the Walgreens… oh, that’s nice… are you leaving the girls?... I’m sure they’ll be fine…Is Roger going to get the car?... that’ll be a good break for you… well, let me know when you get there… be safe… love to everyone…” Lou could not help but feel a bit frustrated, so he let out a grunt to make it apparent before tapping his knuckles rhythmically against the shopping cart. Rita continued to rummage around in her purse before slowly shifting out of her seat and standing up. Exasperated, Lou began walking toward the entrance. He entered the supermarket and began selecting the items that Rita had told him to get. Minutes passed and he was in the cereal aisle picking out the kind of Raisin Bran he wanted when Rita walked up to him with her selected items in a shopping basket. He glanced toward her basket to see the contents. Upon seeing the Carr’s brand of table water crackers, Lou’s face became red. 107

“I’ve told you we have to get the Kroger brand. They’re $1.38 cheaper.” “But the crunch isn’t right.” “Yes, but they’re basically the same.” “But Lou, you aren’t the one eating them.” Then, Lou became really enraged. “Lou I don’t see why you’re being so difficult.” People began to stare. “I just think it’s a better use of money to buy the Kroger brand and with that you could buy cheese or a soda, or peanut butter to go with.” “Well, I don’t want any of those things, Lou.” “Well, I just don’t think it’s a good use of money.” With that, Lou walked off. Leaving his cart and his integrity behind. As he stomped away, Rita placed her shopping basket into their shopping cart and jabbed her hand into the stack of table water crackers, and using her forearm shoveled them all into their shopping basket. These Table water crackers were of course of the Carr’s variety. Ruby K.


i am the ancient, i am the land. my sharpness rounded by time and summer wind, trees grown tall and proud in their age cut and crawl back to stick their fingers through the soil frenchmen took my diamonds long ago, left me naked with my arms clutched across my breasts, shivering, but i grew strong enough to spit. my children run through my fingers, slipping like water through the cracks to return to the earth below me, ashes to ashes dust to molten crust there is blood under my fingernails and my voice is a rockslide cascading down to crush the town below me. i am the first old woman to look at her child and realize she’s a little shorter, her skin more canyons than fresh peach skin. i watched the first woman dragged in circles to grow corn and i watched her descendents’ battered bodies line the roads with white roses. i watered them with my tears and they grew strong enough to spit. old man river stopped winking at me long ago. my hair has floated out of my scalp, cloudless and graying wisps above me. the crows all come to me at dawn to gossip before bringing their trinkets to the people and the raven mockers run from me at dusk. deer walk through my woods, stepping around the bullets. ukashanas shoved a pipe in my mouth and i spat it out. only one path has been carved through me, but go off it. hit the log with a stick to check for cottonmouths and take a look for what you never knew you lost. Lee G.


Future You’re not sure if it’s your reflection or just you. The straps fall off your shoulders and brush the flame sitting near. Your shadow has been haunting you. A bouquet of troubles and cast aside promises. When you duck around a corner a mirror pops up again never letting you forget. You don’t look behind you so you only see Future. But Future isn’t comforting so you take a left. Your feet are sluggish and the people around you are familiarly faceless. Roads merge to a place you know but re-ordered and shaded. You are alone now. Future is staring at you. You are in a room now. Future is gone. You are throwing things in a closet-spare change and someone else’s joint. You worry now. It was still lit. There are blankets up there. You wait. If you die here Future will have caught up. And you worked so hard to outrun it. Isabel M.


Armando Galarraga and the Imperfect Game ...facing the Cleveland Indians, Galarraga retired the first 26 batters he faced. His bid for a perfect game was ruined one out short, when first base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled that Indians batter Jason Donald reached first base safely on a ground ball...the game is sometimes referred to as the “28-out perfect game”, the “Galarraga game”, or simply the “Imperfect Game”. —Wikipedia He was angry at a revelation that came up in another’s mind lest we forget until this point he’d weathered every shallow tide Was pR. right by reservations dinners of lysergic visions where tired, tee’d off Venezuelans told him to forget statistics Nobody thinks after an ending this song he’d heard, he’d heard that morning mourned some poor lovers’ affliction they’d loved the game so hard it killed them This time he stands in, standing still Toledo’s dirt’s hopelessly scattered but this—this dirt is old, resilient (it’s never seen the likes of him) He saw futures in premonitions; once a bird sang, ‘throw it harder!’ (he’d thought he’d lost it moments prior but Austin reached over his shoulder) He gave himself to fate that day and fate put out a grand parlay the roulette wheel began to spin and the dealer couldn’t see a thing The dealer couldn’t see a thing! tinted glasses glossed insured eyes; provided with one clear attempt, 111

he cost his man a storied life He always thought he’d be a preacher give his life to broken scripture but he too often wryly smiled at wholly ugly stained-glass pictures And now he smiles, smiles at the dealer can’t quite believe what he’d just heard the world just spins, then miscorrects it’s like he’ll say: nobody’s perfect. Finn H.


1. You. Say the sun tastes like oranges. The tip of your tooth stained sticky. 2. You. and to that — I give the breath between my fingernails so if only we could go for one more minute kiss&donttell mylove 3. You. I pray for only in my memory. To regain only memory. Old prayers, bare prayers. My heart steadily balanced in my gut. Your veins heavy in my hand. Fractured — raking screams but we pray. 4. You. In anger, your collar bones peek out from your shirt (my tell tale sign).


5. You. There is good. We get so high that the sky spins. Turns your face blue Broke a window once glass flew through your face. And now you have a scar of me. There is good. 6. You. A fraction of the moon is missing. We watched the whole world get darker. “You look beautiful,� you said. as I tried to fix the moon. Each bone aching against the skin 7. You. make me think I can swim in my own bathtub. My own personal pool. Cold marble and gross old water. But I feel so black tie. Like a catered dinner party. 8. You. It was all so dingy anyway. Adelaide C.


(Solitude) Waking in The Morning with No One at My Side Humble Beginnings are swaddled in a cotton-linen blend, There is a spot of dried blood hiding beneath my thigh, Tendons and bones yawn, wake, beneath untouched skin, Cold wood floors lead to a drafty bathroom, There I soak in silence. On Modern Love: It is a funny thing, to realize one’s own tenderness, To see how softly your hair falls on your shoulders when it’s damp. To feast your eyes on an unknown corpse, which happens to belong to you. To dress the unkissed freckles, To hide the belly, never to be held. It is a funny thing, to research oneself. It is a funny thing to research oneself for a 500-page nonfiction manuscript. Dedicated to the distance between your earlobe and the bridge of your nose. With four chapters on the way morning sunlight hits your cheekbones, Followed by an antithesis on how golden hour does not favor your facial features. An epilogue on your lips. It is a life’s work. Never to be published. Perhaps found in a desk drawer, post-mortem, beneath a rusted ashtray. Claire S.


In high school we moved to Savannah, where the only friend I made was the Colonial Era ghost who lived in our new house. Her name was Beth Anne Arbor and her vocabulary consisted mainly of 90’s slang. Beth Anne slept on my floor most nights. I’d let her sleep in my bed with me at first, but her feet were cold and she tended to drool on the pillow. With her body hovering just above the blow up mattress, I ended up telling her things I’d never told anyone. “Where did you move from?” she asked me one night. “South Carolina,” I told her. “I’ve got cousins there. Their old manor got torn down, though, so now they’re stuck haunting this horrific McMansion. Why did you move?” “My mom molested a kid in my algebra class so we had to leave the state.” “Aiight,” she said. One of Beth Anne’s contributing qualities was her romantic advice. She was very strict about my standards and she always thought I was settling. “Beth Anne,” I said to her one night after a party. We were drinking rum and coke and waiting for my mother to come home. “He’s on the honor board and he plays lacrosse and he likes me.” “No,” she said. “I don’t know what ‘lacrosse’ means but you said you saw him ‘yelling at his mother in the carpool lane.’ Kick him to the curb.” “Someone finally likes me, Beth Anne. We’ve been here for months and no one’s 116

even looked at me.” “I’ve looked at you,” she said, somewhat offended. “But you’re dead, Beth Anne.” “Tell him to talk to the hand. His liking you isn’t a reason to go with him.” She took a heavy swig of her drink. “With all due respect, did teenagers date when you were, you know, alive?” “Sure they did.” Another swig. “I went with my neighbor, Phillip, for a while.” “Oh,” I said. “How long were you together?” “Until I died.” “That’s so sad.” “Not really. I mean, he’s the one who did it. I didn’t want to go with him anymore and he lit me on fire behind his barn. It hurt so bad I had to hold my breath until I passed out and died. Talk about a scrub. But feel free to ignore my advice. You’re just one more person that’s going to die and leave me eventually.” “My mom felt up the kid I’d been in love with since I was seven,” I said. She was unimpressed. “Stop trying to one-up me, homes.” I couldn’t even say anything because right then my mother came home, very drunk. “You shouldn’t be up,” she slurred. “Hand me that bottle of whatever. I’m going to bed. Also, the floor’s wet.” She flicked off the kitchen light, plunging me into darkness. Beth Anne was gone, but the rum and coke must have fallen right through her, since there was a puddle growing beneath the chair she had just been sitting in. I held my breath thinking that maybe, like Beth Anne, I’d never let it go. Frances M.


Moon Song In silent ecstasy she rises Deep in the night sky Her canyons and crevasses Hold pools of blue-grey shadow. Her light turns to fingers in the water Curling around seaweed and Manipulating slow selenotropic dances of fish and flower floating She is morose, she is magnetic She pulls the wind and sea with her as she Circles the watery bodies She contains multitudes A ghost of the first light A glimmer of the first woman She throws out waves and pulls them back inside the watery corpse She will beckon you to swim in her depths and she will drown you in her blue Come and swim with me, she whispers To sailors and nomads, to kings and composers Let me paint you pale and blue Let me show you how Artemis flew Leaving a trail of shimmering snail slime as She crawls through the stars — The siren mother, shade lain bare She will eat you like the air. Heath H.


Purpose Mama swept in with her glorious wings Saving us from a dreadful fall A fall that was endless We couldn’t forget the glowing look she had Whenever we lost our breath for a second The crowd felt shivers crowd down their spines It was Mama once again Looking over us with the feeling of never letting go Reversing Time whenever she had to Walking on water Jumping through the fire Hunting down our enemies She would do anything to fulfill her purpose Her purpose of loving us until the end The end of time, of course It was hard, but it was Mama Mama with the glorious wings, Was your purpose worth fulfilling? India Cole


For quite a few years I’ve spent my time thinking Thoughts enter and exit without even blinking. The questions I ponder have often been fruitless While I know this is true I still end up sleepless. One question I have that might seem quite big Is where do thoughts come from? They’re gone if you dig. Do they sit underneath some wall I can’t breach? Or come to existence without need of speech? I think my thoughts are mine, but what do I know? The thoughts that I have could just be a show. You might wonder as I write if these thoughts can be true? Well my dear reader, you wouldn’t be here if I knew. But one thing I can say with a purest conviction Is that this poem here I’m writing is not a contradiction. If the thoughts I think now are true in my head, Then true for you too are the words you just read. Maybe this is the way that a thought must be formed, A seed can be placed and the thought’s then transformed. So all in the end we are left with one thing, Was this poem here before, or from my mind did it spring? Illia K.-C.


To Be or Not to Be He inhabited the negative space—he found himself only able to be where something else was not. It may sound like a scary or lonely life but luckily for him, it wasn’t. He had plenty of friends, and to the spectating eyes of his peers and parents, he was thriving; but all that was a facade to protect his secret research. This is not to say that he didn’t at times enjoy playing the character he had created for himself, but he knew deep down that was not him. So he carried out tests and experiments with marbles to attempt to find a dueling space: somewhere where two things could exist in the same place congruently. But he didn’t insist on perfect congruence: he would happily settle getting the marbles to meld together even a little. Of course he couldn’t achieve his goal by using the scientific method of keeping meticulous data and testing things, because he knew that what he meant to achieve couldn’t be achieved by doing it the way that it was meant to be done—then someone would have already done it. So he took no data and tested things only as he felt they hadn’t yet been tested. He didn’t throw the marbles or squish the marbles or crack the marbles or smack the marbles, he talked to them. He read them stories of unity and togetherness, and of the oneness of the universe, and simply placed the marbles next to each other; giving them the agency to meld themselves. He tried this for countless days, and in many different ways. He played them speeches from the Dalai-Lama and sheltered their lives from any trauma. Read them rhymes with affection but nothing could grab their attention. The marbles just sat there, neither melding, nor moving at all. Clearly he hadn’t found the right approach, or it truly was impossible for two things to occupy the same space. He stopped caring for his facade at this point in his research; he allowed his friends to distance themselves and his parents to worry, but all the same he tended to his marbles. He didn’t particularly want to share his research with the world, because he didn’t particularly care about the thoughts and feelings of the rest of the world: because they were absolutely individual. They could never understand the marbles because the second they saw them, their minds would be clouded with their own opinions and criticisms. What he wanted was true sameness. Two marbles to not only be the same shape, size and color, but also to occupy the same space, to free themselves from the confines of individuality. Suddenly, he realized that the marbles could never unite, because they had already been too exposed to the propaganda of form. They had already thought of themselves as marbles; not as beings, but marbles. They were convinced that they were not the world around them, and that they were a marble and that everything else was, well, just everything else. So he searched the world for something to test that didn’t already have this preconception—this misinformed, form creating, freedom inhibiting—conception.


He found only himself. So he got back to work and began conditioning his body for the melding. He felt that for his body to meld, he would have to rid his mind of all its negativity to leave room only for positive unity. His plan was to start trying to meld his hands together and then work from there. So, he lost his marbles and put his hands on the examining table instead, placing them next to one another. He waited. The waiting was short lived because they instantaneously melded into one hand. Neither left nor right, both left and right, it was just hand. Ecstatic with his success he began work on the next step: unifying his arms and legs. The process was over in seconds and now he had only one leg and one arm. Hopping through his laboratory amazed by the simplicity of his success, he prepared the next step. The next step, however, was a much more serious challenge: he wanted Is independent from to meld his body, but the body lacks the clear separation the arms hold. So he knew exactly how he needed to meld his body. He was just going to meld it. So, he hobbled across his laboratory to his work table and jumped on. He tossed and turned for awhile until it no longer seemed necessary to toss and Everything turn. His body felt a overwhel—well, his body felt nothing. His body was free from being a body, and he was free from being him. He was undefined, and he could finally and see that the world was undefined too. It was not just him versus the world. To be and not to be. That is the answer. Levon T. H. 122

My Daughter I’m sprawled in the backseat of the shiny blue convertible my parents rented for our four-day vacation in Key West. I watch as the vibrant palm trees zoom in and out of my vision. My mom sits in the front seat with both hands gripping the wheel, her knuckles white. My dad is in the passenger seat looking away from my mother and biting his thumb nail. The half full bag of Doritos lays on the car floor milling around aimlessly. No one picks it up. “You need to give me the directions ahead of time or I’ll make a wrong turn.” My mother’s voice is cool but her words crack at the end of the sentence. “I’m giving it to you,” my dad responds. “What more do you want?” “For you to give it to me in advance, please.” A large red van passes us with the windows rolled down. I look inside the backseat to see two sisters singing along to “What Makes You Beautiful,” using empty coke bottles as microphones. I purse my lips and look away. “Fine, in four miles you’ll turn left and then in another three and a half miles you bear to the right to enter highway 459. You then stay on that for ten miles and—” “Please, David! Enough! I’m not in the mood to deal with your attitude. All I’m asking is for you to read me the fucking directions and you can’t even do that. How do you think this is affecting my daughter! She’s gonna learn it’s okay to be immature, just like her father.” My mother’s jaw clenches. There’s a second of only the rush of air and the far away sound of waves crashing before my father’s harsh voice interrupts the purity of silence. I see the map in his hands become shreds of paper that drift away. I hear the muttered string of curses, the phrase “my daughter” pops in and out of the conversation. Spit flies out of my father’s mouth as he bellows. My mother’s blonde hair swings back and forth as she switches between looking at him and the outstretching road. All I do is sit there looking at the vibrant palm trees. I realize that we’re pulling off the road and into a small parking lot. Before we even reach a complete stop my dad’s door is open and he’s off. I look down at the bag of Doritos which are now crumbs scattered on the car floor. I crush one with my foot. “I’m sorry,” is all she says as my father walks farther and farther away. Lily S.-K. 123

A Sonnet to Orsino, from Viola (12th Night) You ask, have I gaped at beauty before? Has it ever sung, ever danced in me? Has the young page seen beauty to adore? My Lord, you make me question, who is he? “He” stands near you to better hear commands, But I am close to watch you bat your eyes, To see not fists but open palms for hands, Your music, your wisdom; “he” tells you lies, “He”, this loathsome costume, this awful cage, Tells you who I must be, not really me: If “he” is a costume, then I’m offstage: There I’m the beauty, if only you’d see! Sweet O, the food of love is at your feast, Lady-in-waiting. Love, your humble beast. Caroline H.


Berman I sat there watching them argue. They couldn’t even stop for air, as if they were both drowning in their negative words. Travis sat there, not even paying attention to his five year old son, who was about to hit a home run. Scott, his 16 year old son, was arguing back, also not paying attention to his little brother. After 30 minutes of non-stop going back and forth, Astro, the five year old who hit his first home run, ran towards his family and excitedly asked them, “Did you see? I did it! I got the little league trophy!” Travis didn’t even hear his son. Astro said it even louder. “DAD. I asked you something.” Scott said, “Shut up you twerp, no one cares. The adults are talking; go away.” Travis butted in, only to disagree with his son again: “You are most definitely not an adult. This is why we have these falling outs, you think you can do everything. You’re just sixteen!” Astro, upset and disappointed in his family, sulked away. This was hard to watch, a five year old being ignored by his older brother and father. I put on my black sunglasses, straightened up my freshly ironed suit, and walked over to the dysfunctional family. I was preparing to give them an offer they couldn’t refuse. My name is Berman Webster and I am a real estate agent, about to offer them a new house that will solve their family problems. This was no ordinary house, but a house that was alive, living and breathing just as you are. The house could listen to you, understand you and solve your problems, but only if you followed the rules. Hopefully he would follow the rules. To keep this explanation short and simple, let’s just say that the last owners of the house that broke the rules aren’t around to tell the story. I approached Travis and asked him if he would be interested. I knew he was going to say yes; the house told me. Like I thought, he accepted the request and I gave him a note that would tell him everything he needed to know. The house would do the rest. The note read: “Saturday, 1 PM sharp. DO NOT BE LATE.” Rule #1. Travis My son is very difficult. We named him Scott, but we should have named him Jerk because that is what he is. After I missed my son’s baseball game, I was arguing with him and a weird looking man apparently named Berman Webster came up to me and told me that I needed a new house. For some reason, I felt as if I couldn’t say no. Like if I did, something really bad would happen. So I agreed. He gave me a note on a ripped piece of looseleaf paper that read, “Saturday, 1 PM sharp. DO NOT BE LATE.” The house address wasn’t on it, so I had no idea how to get there. I looked up from the note and Berman was gone, almost like he had disappeared into thin air. The note looked like it was typed, but it was in pencil. There were very weird, suspicious vibes coming from that man, but I felt as if I had to trust and follow him. There was an urge to listen to him that couldn’t be shelved or ignored. 125

Once Saturday came around, I walked to my car to drive to the unknown location of this mysterious house. I sat in the driver’s seat not knowing where I was going, or why I even agreed to meet a weird man at a house that may not even exist. My hands began to put the car in reverse and I backed out of my driveway. I wasn’t doing it. My foot floored the gas and I sped to the house, not even aware of where I was going. My feet moved for me and my hands made all of the turns for me. I looked around the neighborhood and it looked very unfamiliar. I wasn’t even aware that this part of town existed. There were abandoned mansions, rats moving in the garbage cans, and racoons in every square inch. Farther up the block there was one house in perfect condition. It looked as if someone had cut this property from a movie and pasted it into this run-down neighborhood. It didn’t fit in at all with its surroundings. The house looked eerie, like it was watching you. I pulled into the driveway and jumped out of the car, literally. I finally felt back in control of my limbs as I cautiously walked over to the front door. I didn’t even get to the last step before the door opened for me. The house was gorgeous inside and looked like it was worth $20 million. I turned around to leave, and I couldn’t. My feet wouldn’t move. I checked my watch and it was 1:02 PM. I was late. Suddenly I was yanked by my feet and dragged down the basement stairs by nothing. I looked down at what was dragging me and there was nothing. It pulled me down into the basement and there was a voice that was a mix of high-pitched and low-pitched that said, “YOU ARE LATE. YOU HAVE BROKEN A RULE, AND THEREFORE YOU MUST SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.” I was scared for my life. I didn’t know what to do. I was frozen, open-mouthed, sitting on the cold basement floor. The floor opened up and I was pulled into it, again by nothing. I couldn’t breathe, or feel, there wasn’t any light leftBerman I walked around the house waiting for Travis to show up. It was now 1:10, and I was starting to get worried because if he wasn’t in the house by 1PM, he would have broken a rule. It’s a big house, so he was probably around. I was on the 5th floor and I slowly made my way down the stairs. I made it to the entrance, and I noticed the front door was open. I closed it, then saw the basement door open. I locked that door, for it is forbidden to enter. How was it possible that it was unlocked? The house, I thought. I walked downstairs and stood at the steps, watching the house engulf Travis. He should’ve come earlier. Angelique R.


The time has come Where I need to start Thinking about what to do In my life. The problem is, I have as many ideas for that As I do for poems to write, Which is to say, Very few. It’s not Like I haven’t Thought About it, Tried to Narrow it Down, it’s Just that my Parachute Is still multi-Colored With hues all throughout The color spectrum. For every idea I come up with I knock one out. So I’m left With nothing, Which is one thing I can’t do. Eitan F.


The Fittest We are not created equal. It’s a simple fact. Everyone’s first biology lesson explains it. Some people are strong, intelligent, with robust systems, veins and intestines that connect and curl in the right ways. Others aren’t fit. Heavy breathing, misformed bodies, too scrawny or puffy or droopy or wrinkled. And every kid probably remembers their first fitting. I was a sheltered child. I didn’t experience my first fitting until first grade. I know it’s late, but I suppose I was unlucky. It was during recess, and it was a gangly boy with a sallow complexion. We were playing a game of tag, running, screaming, and panting. More than normal. After chasing a cheerful girl, his breathing became heavier. He opened his mouth, gasped for air, desperately trying to fill his lungs. An asthmatic. As he flopped on the ground pitifully, like a fish out of water, a crowd assembled. Soon we were joined by older children from other classes, and eventually the teacher. As the boy stared up, the teacher made an inscrutable face. His eyes begged for help.The others turned up their faces as the boy’s whimpers lessened to mumblings then to nothing. “Good thing he was weeded out early.” the teacher smiled, leading everyone back to the classroom. As the years progressed, our school grew cleaner and cleaner. A girl who had to constantly squint, unable to see what was right before her walked into a busy road. Another got sick, losing her ability to walk. She lay on the ground, pulling herself with her forearms, scraped from the concrete. She finally gave up in the yard, where she remained until complaints of her stench forced them to remove the body. Some students cried, upset that they had wasted their lunches by giving scraps to her despite all advice. Sure we were all upset about her loss as well, but it was just the way the world worked. It was survival of the fittest, and she wasn’t fit. To help those going through fitting was not only a crime, but highly immoral. In history we had learned about the great expense and the downfall caused by helping the unfit. Millions were spent on inhalers, wheelchairs, glasses, and medical treatments. While researching, one brave man, Arthur Gilt, the face in all of our history books, realized that medicine was not the problem, we were. He had watched countless animals change over time to adapt to the conditions subjected upon them, and humans just needed to adapt to that path as well. To get in the way was to worsen mankind. I suppose I always accepted it. Until Montana. She was the perfect symbol of everything we stood for. Muscular, tall, and with piercing green eyes, she was the personification 128

of Arthur Gilt’s intentions. Of course, she also happened to be his granddaughter. I must admit I often found myself gazing at her copious head of curls, pleading for her attention. But then, who didn’t want to be in her favor? We were lucky to have her in our year at school. I remember when all of that finally changed. I had just tripped in the gym, and after I had gotten up, she gave me her bandage, knowing I had used up my monthly ration. Such an act was so unheard of. Even knowing she received larger rations didn’t stop my heart from pounding, knowing she had even considered me. She laughed as I formally thanked her, finding my nerves hilarious, my awkwardness endearing. Soon we were inseparable. She led me about, showing me all sorts of wonders as I followed her like a dog on a leash. I wasn’t Winnie when greeted anymore. it was always MontanaAndWinnie. We were one object, in our matching dresses, even if I was shorter and heavier. Everything changed one night. She had invited me for a sleepover. While most of us lived the same existence with equal rations and in similar housing units, she lived in a very privileged environment. Her home was large with brick patterns lining it instead of just the plain concrete. We stayed up late and she braided my hair. I wasn’t allowed to touch hers despite her large curls always ending up in her face. We slept in her large bed. Getting up in the middle of the night to relieve myself, I found her side of the bed empty. I opened the bathroom door to find her locks pushed back as she fiddled with a strange device clinging to the outside of her ear. She startled and quickly turned away, but I had already seen it. It was unfair. Immoral. I had to fix this. It didn’t matter who she was or who she was related to. After that night, I often wondered if I did the right thing. Everyone says I did, but I can’t be sure. I can still remember her frantic, panicked explanations sometimes. I wake up at night startled, and my husband has to soothe me, telling me what I did was right until I can fall back to sleep again. But I still hear the crunching of the device under my foot. I still see her crumpled body outside, four stories below the balcony, gurgling as blood and bones spew out from all of the wrong places. They gave me a shiny copper metal, but its reddish shine still makes me think of her. Lola G.


Mannequin Monumental she stood. Atop a tall cabinet she was raised above the rest. One arm raised, fingers outstretched towards the nothingness. Long gray scarf draped around her shoulders as if she were lovely, Big yellow hat on top of her head as if she had something to hide, Sleek black overcoat covering her body as if she were timeless. Beneath her were the subordinates. They stood in modesty, perched on stools Or against walls Or in between sale racks. Their heads all faced her She was the spectacle. They desired her, to see from her eyes. They wished to know what complexity had propelled her higher than themselves. Then one day, Her head turned. Monument no more. It was because, for a moment, She thought she had seen him, One small fleck of something of his Passing by the storefront window. Disrupting everything she stood for, She could not help but steal a gaze. Alas it was not him. And so the others lost their respect, And these days, she awaits her fall, When they remove her from the pedestal. She rues the day she turned her head, But if it had been him Had she not been mistaken She would be satisfied. They could take her down to the lowest low. Her head would remain turned, in heart, To his smallest fleck. Julia F. 130

Nothing but Blue skies and Blue birds People say there is nothing more open than a big blank blue sky. The kind that you look at going on and on as far as the eye can see: no horizon in sight, no obstructions, no clouds, no sun, no moon, no stars, pale blue consuming the irises. Then the world flipped on its head— and we’re walking on the pale blue ground. Anything is possible with this blue ground, you can do anything with this big blue malleable ground. I think that nothing holds more possibilities than a ground full of standing stars, each so different and unique with something new to convey, a ground with a blinding sun that people can look directly at, but feel the urge to look and stare anyway, that leaves that mark in your eyes and brain, a ground with a beautiful pigmented moon sitting in the middle of the darkest blue, captivating the audience around it, a ground with buildings obscuring it, pieces of other worlds in their windows adding to the watercolor fades, the ground melting into the color pot of beauty and opportunities, every color in the rainbow dripping down, coating every person. Isabel M.


‫הנשה שאר‬ Now would not be a good time to be reborn A month or two, maybe, But why tear down what’s just built up? A new personality a few weeks after the last one— That’s not rebirth, that’s a false start. That’s not trusting your September choices That’s jumping the gun on junior year: We’re not refreshing, we’re growing around scars We’re scarring others, sinning like messy eaters Will we remember to atone if left alone? Will we bother fumbling with transliteration? Beat our chests? I bet the old ones beat harder. Our round challah falls far from the tree, Our coffee whiskey orange juice sour cream honey cake—smitten kitchen—falls farther Una R.


Of Glory This is the story of a summer night (or an autumn one) and looking at the city’s nervous system spread before us or sometimes just me and these lights (it looks like-) and the messy webs of stickers and spray paint spelling home on uneven bricks it is warm and I (we) feel alive. There are no responsibilities, in a park at 10pm, and our glory is nothing but an illusion in the fireflies but eyes bright and dewy skin and stupid jewelry allows us a sense of self erase the magnitude of. everything else it is a macro-lense-photo on kodak portra (star filter optional; sweat is shiny enough) you have to ignore the future, to truly feel the glory it’s too uncertain - but our power is now cobblestones lit up in the path of our laughter Wear tinted sunglasses on the tip of your nose with me Draw messy things and listen to bad music - when it’s dark out nobody’s allowed to tell you not to enjoy anything. I have shattered glass in my coat pocket that reminds me of the cemetery angel’s blank eyes I feel gold-red and icy blue with you Lio O.


Requiem translated into English I feel like I’m wiping my fucking brains out with all this snot. Maybe I only remember you through windows because that’s the only time I can finally peel away the ‘wet paint’ sign to see the blank spot left behindA mole I draw behind your right ear to remember you by. Occasionally I think that if I wait you out (the orange pedestrian stop light) You come through the night and tell me the order of things to say but not the words, so I fill in using the scrapbook of a thesaurus combing through pages like the back of your heart shaped hair. Practicing to scare me didactically I think you have figured out what it means to make someone skip heartbeats out in favor of looking into the pinpoint epicenter of the back of your head. I only realize myself to be slipping through earth when I go to pretend your hand is pulling me out by staring at my hand blue and warm and my veins pooling at the heel like my feet pooling at their centers: I think god’s favorite kind of rain is the droplets that are perfectly shaped so that when you look up into the sky (at the flip flop soles of (one of) His feet) and that droplet slips through your forehead and then cuts through the gap of your halved brain till it has nowhere to go except down like a (tear) drop of blood instead. Katie L.


Today, I was reminded of you. it’s true that you often cross my mind, but today I passed our special spot in the center of Prospect Park and I thought of you. You with your silly smile and your cuffed jeans and your dutch braids dangling behind your navy blue jacket. It was nice to be reminded of those days. Those nights when we would roam the streets of Brooklyn, and pretend to be Jack and Rose on the railing of the Gowanus Canal. Those nights when we’d bounce from one shop to the next, looking for the best cookie in town. There is nothing like a fresh-baked cookie. Warm, crisp, gooey. Bits of chocolate always landed on your face but I didn’t mind it. Not the way I minded everyone else’s bad manners. Mouths full of devoured food made me wince. 135

But with you, it was cute. With you, I didn’t have to try to be someone else. With you, it was different. It always was. I haven’t seen you since you squeezed me goodbye at that same spot in the park. It’s been years since I’ve heard your little giggle and seen your beaten-up fingernails. You have stopped biting them. And now you have nails. Now you can peel oranges and itch your neck all by yourself. Now you don’t need my help. We used to debrief on the phone every night, for hours on end, after one of our special nights. And our mothers begged us to hang up but we didn’t care. And if the world came to an end, we would talk some more. And we would talk about everything. Until the ground we stood on was absolutely destroyed and the oxygen stopped flooding to our brains. But then we grew up. And life came 136

hurtling forward and we had to stop and breathe. And our calls got shorter. And we were forced to think about what was coming next. And our calls got even shorter. Because cookie hunting and ice skating couldn’t last forever. But I miss those days. I do. And I miss you. I really do. And I bet the park misses us, and the waiter at our favorite diner who hasn’t seen us since the days when we had metal in our mouths, pimples on our faces, and backpacks that were heavier than we were. I miss you. So meet me in the park, when you can, when time stops and we have a moment to breathe. To breathe together. Meet me there. I’ll be there. With a box of fresh baked cookies and my ice skates. Katie E.



Eliza Ever since Eliza had been moved to my tank from the ocean, something about her had transfixed me. Perhaps it was the unapologetically wild spirit and sharp senses that living out of captivity had fostered that made her so appealing. She was friendly but never flirty. Living in the giant ocean tank with 100 other species helped her notice me; I was the only other of her kind. Eliza was never aggressive, but she defended herself. When Brian, our feeder, came every morning and afternoon she always peeled her suckers off the glass of the viewing tank and propelled her flowing body toward Brian at the back of her tank. Visitors loved Eliza, but it was not because she tried to put on a show. She would explore every nook and cranny of the tank, using the sensors on her suckers to taste and feel all the rocks and coral. Eliza changed colors faster and more often than any octopus I’d ever seen, reflecting her complex thoughts and mood shifts. I don’t know if Eliza ever saw me lurking in the seaweed, the closest place to her favorite rock, where I could at least pretend I was preoccupied with something other than her. The first time I ever got close to her was a few days after her arrival. I had spent those days watching her every move, me and my tank mates fascinated by her wild sense of confidence. After four days and many encouraging looks from my sea anemone friend, I decided it was time to meet this Eliza. As I swam over to her my suckers tingled at the thought of wrapping my tentacles around hers, floating in unison. But that first time my fantasy was rudely interrupted by Eliza’s ink which shot furiously toward my face. I quickly swam away, as far from Eliza as the tank would permit. I thought it was all over, but then a few days later after Brian had given us some fish for dinner, I noticed Eliza trying to get my attention by swimming in tight circles close by, holding the fish loosely in her beak. Maybe Eliza’s ink was playful after all, maybe she was signaling to me that she was capable of defending herself, she wasn’t one to mess around with. But after a brief minute of tainted flirtation, Eliza devoured the fish and swam to the opposite corner of the tank where she plastered her suckers to the glass. The moment stuck with me. I decided to give it another try, perhaps flaunting the fish was her way of imploring me to give her a second chance. So the next day I swam over to her favorite cave for the second time. When I crossed the unspoken threshold of her area, she didn’t ink this time. But as I extended my tentacle, Eliza didn’t wrap hers around mine either. She looked at me with her perfect eyes at a comfortable distance. We took each other in and floated in silence. Perhaps friendship was the first step. Josey K.


Skin Eleven fifteen and I watch with wide open eyes as you slip fingers under my skin and and grab a greedy handful of what lives inside as if she’s yours to take White knuckles grow whiter until warm pink guts and yellow fat ooze from your fists You force the scream back down my throat Sweet dark blood should stain you but it soils me instead and it’s not fair Four in the morning Alone Thank god Stare vacantly into the mirror at that ugly sagging thing in an enormous sweatshirt and two pairs of pants and sing quietly because I can still have a song even if it comes from lips that aren’t mine anymore Crawl under blankets and practice disappearing even though it’s too late now Guilt should eat away at your skin but it gnaws at mine instead and it’s not fair You are a beautiful boy Your fangs glint golden when you smile Your joy is palpable They love you here They listen to you Sticky orange sun trickles through my bedroom wall My face burns as the voice you planted in me like a flower grabs my throat and wonders why I didn’t let it in sooner There is no voice in your head Last February you were a thief and you are still a thief I don’t remember how much you stole from underneath my skin but I still see the look on your face as you took it from me bBehind my eyelids your tender skin twisting into blind mania sSends bile up into my mouth A dull and lonely kind of terror I should have grown out of but haven’t Oh my god it’s been fifty-six weeks Please I need to belong to me Jules H.


Trainspotting Are we here? Is it dark? How far until collision? Press palms flat against our heads and grin— There’s the flicker in the blue! There, red flash, distant haze Then thrumming chroma flooding in the squall Then stomach-rumble till— So is that all? Is it still dark? There’s respite to be found in after-seconds In muddy knees, in dusted hands Should we jump the rails and wait for more? This is trainspotting, To live, to choose— To feel the flushing Earth To toe the track between what is life And what is not Edie L.


Breaking Patience She leads me down the stairway from the world of clouds and crackers Her flesh toned fingers grip my hand Each finger an attacker I have to go I tell her But her red fingers tighten till mine are blue I relax my hand to slip like sand yet still I am with you Her hair glitters in the plunging sun Her redness fills my blue I am in love with your warmth Yet still I have to go “Snooze” I tell myself one more moment here No harm in waiting just a second There is no need to fear Yet I march my head outside—away And down to concrete grey My redness fades and my blue pervades ‘Tis time for me to plunge the turbid tides Enter this self-inflicted forever until I realize I’m back again with you Cuatro V.


Me In May it is December 12th, but I am still stuck in May life from then has put me on a rocket ship shooting me straight up into space i am now hopping from one planet to the next testing which atmosphere to settle down into but as soon as I find one I like, life sends me back to earth or is it you who sends me back? three seasons have passed on earth since May life from then has kept me underwater i’ve grown accustomed to the temperature when i come back to the surface, everything is cold and unfamiliar i’ve been underwater since May you saw me for the last time when i was me in May so you will only remember parts of me you won’t ever know me in December me who has been to the depths of the ocean who has been alone in space or have you been the one sending me to those places all along and three more seasons will pass Allie R.


The pile of damp cardboard and newspapers seems to be breathing. A spotted and scarred pink dog nose pokes out, followed by a large boxy face and wilting torn up ears. The last of the garbage falls away revealing a muscle-stuffed yet broken fur-patched body. A mother grabs her son’s curious hand. A once-laughing couple quickens its pace. Even the sunlight scampers to the other side of the street. I, also sitting on the sidewalk, creep my finger towards the bow-legged beast. It exposes its crumbling yellow teeth and snarls. But the snarling soon stops. It requires too much energy for this mutt to spare. With my hand still positioned on the cement the dog comes to rest its exhausted head in my palm. Warmth washes over me, but it is not a gift from the fearful sun. Fia d. S.


Diner She sat, gazing out of the diner window. The large, slow dollops dripping from the roof contrasted the rest of the fast, thin streaks all around the building. It was a dark, midnight, blur, the still landscape somehow harvesting so much movement. She wondered where it all went, how the water disappeared. What if it all just stacked up from a puddle to an ocean, and up again till it reached the stars. She imagined the moon floating in black, salty tides. She turned away from the wet scene and took a sip of Coke. It was sweet, room temperature, and a little flat. It almost felt like the bubbles had taken a long mellow nap and were lethargically, occasionally yawning, stirring, or shifting around. It was really quite comfortable. A plate was put down by a friendly, unassuming pair of hands, but by the time she had registered this, to say thank you, there was nobody in sight. She glanced at the ketchup bottle and smiled to herself. The bottles were always half empty, no matter the place. It put her at ease to have a familiarity she could recognise. She opened the bottle with a little trouble (because someone had put the cap on the wrong way) and rapped her knuckles on the glass embroidered 58 (if you wanted it to come out you always hit the 58, it was the only right way to do it). She then proceeded to shamelessly put it on the egg sandwich. It was a procedure that her family was always jokingly disgusted by, but she liked it, what could she say? She bit into the rubbery eggs and not fully melted alarmingly orange cheese, the dense, dry, bread, and it was so incredibly perfect. It was the same as all the rest she had ever had before. She tasted the smooth yet gritty ketchup and it was all coming together but she still felt it. It was fine, she was fine, everyone goes through this right? And all of a sudden her throat was caught and she felt her eyes tearing up. Embarrassed, she pulled her sweatshirt hoodie up over her face. But there was no denying it. She was crying, as fast, heavy, and, to her, just as much as the downpour outside. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on calming herself down. She smelled the light deep frying smell mixed with the sticky sweet corn syrup of all the pies sweating under artificial light in the glass displays up front. The sound of the milkshake mixer whirring, the utensils and clouded plastic cups being hurriedly cleared, the pellets of rain hitting the parking lot gravel outside. It was too surreal. She ran out, not even stopping to shove a plastic wrapped after dinner mint from the dirty metal dish into her jeans pocket. She raced down the grey brick steps and halted before slowly stepping into the storm. She walked to her beat up car and sat on the warped hood. Spreading out she took it all in. The hard, iced drops relentlessly slipping down her sleeves chilling her warm arms underneath. The dreamlike, twinkling vast landscape up above. She closed her eyes, tears still spilling down her cheeks, and waited to be floated up into the galaxy. Julia S. 145


Hoarding or Preserving? ‘Clean room’ is an item constantly sitting on my to-do list. No matter how many times I try to organize papers, shelve old books, and fold away clothes, I still always feel as if my room is in a perpetual state of disarray. Whenever I tidy up my room, I do ‘surface-level’ cleaning; I stack books lying on my armchair, throw away stray clothing tags and sheets of paper, rearrange little boxes and bottles on my small desk—but no matter what I do the sheer number of objects in my room leaves me anxious. My bookshelf is filled with books I read in English anywhere from 3rd grade (A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver) to 7th grade (Lord of the Flies). Underneath my bed, I have boxes and boxes of preschool projects and finger puppets and old toys. The shelf built into my wall from floor to ceiling is packed to the brim with things that I, for the most part, have not touched in years—the top shelf is more preschool projects, below that two shelves of German children’s books, below that a shelf containing empty boxes that I’ve accumulated from gifts over the past six or more years. In my closet, I have a shelf devoted completely to ‘sentimental clothing’—old shirts that are much too small on me now but which I used to love so I feel the need to hold on to. My bathroom, too, is filled with countless gifts of shampoo and lip glosses and bath bombs and face masks, and I have an entire drawer below my sink devoted solely to hotel soap samples and body bars, including some from when I was eight years old. Despite all the items that are somehow packed into this room, at first glance, I would say my room actually seems quite neat compared to others. I don’t leave clothes scattered on the floor, I make my bed usually, and most of these random old objects are tucked away somehow or other into a corner or a shelf. It’s outdated for sure—I sleep in a bunk bed, left over from the days when I still shared a room with my brother, old enough that both my older sisters used to sleep in it before me. My armchair is old and brown, stationed imposingly in a corner of my room. I have a small glass desk on one side of my room and a large brown shoe cabinet on the other, both of whose only purposes are as surfaces for any knick knacks that I bring into my room but don’t have the energy to properly tuck away. I often complain about the lack of any new furniture in my room—even my large yellow bookshelf is a hand-me-down—in reality, however, neither of my parents are opposed to me ordering new furniture, as they tell me every time I begin complaining about wanting a nicer desk or a normal bed. If I wanted to, I could go onto Wayfair or Overstock right now and order myself a new set of furniture. But whenever my parents suggest this, I’m hesitant. Ordering furniture means having to clear up all the old things lying on my current ‘desk’, having to spend time moving all my current furniture, and heaving a new bed and desk up three flights of stairs to my room. This is the reason I give my parents to explain why I’m so 147

reluctant to make a change. I’m not sure why my room is filled to the brim with old furniture and objects from my childhood. I know I can’t be the only person who is caught in this dilemma. Doesn’t everyone have at least a few eclectic knick-knacks and old playbills and random canvas bags lying around in their rooms? I don’t think I would object if someone were to come into my room and completely make it over for me, purging it of every unused object and replacing all my furniture—I guess I’m just too hesitant to make that leap for myself. Is this laziness? Am I a ‘hoarder’? In some ways I may be. But when I think of the term ‘hoarder’, my mind conjures up images of a crazy old woman holed up in her room, every surface covered with wrinkled magazines or old pots and pans. I see myself as more of a sentimentalist than a hoarder. The other day I attempted another attack on my room. I formulated a plan, deciding to first tackle my wall shelves, then move to the bathroom, before finally closing in on my bookshelf. I sat down in front of the first built-in shelf in the corner of my room and pulled out a random box whose contents I was unsure of. Opening it, I found a fancy feather quill that I had begged my parents for two years ago at Christmas, used once, and never touched again. This was an easy one; there was no way I could get rid of this. Who knows—I might be a skilled calligraphist, but if I were to not keep this quill, my talent might never be discovered. I unboxed it and placed the quill in its holder, fashionably arranging it on my desk. Next, I found a stack of Dora books that I used to love when I was about three or four. Another easy one-—I had so many sentimental memories of reading stories of Dora going to bake bread with her grandma and Dora adventuring through swamps that I definitely could not get rid of these. I spent a few minutes flipping through them and smiling to myself appreciatively before restacking them and putting them back on the shelf in a slightly new position. I looked at my clock and, realizing that twenty minutes had already passed, turned back to the shelf and decided to attack it more aggressively. Next I reached for an empty plastic container containing a few star-shaped stickers and an old eraser. I contemplated this one for a moment, and then decided that instead of throwing it out I should repurpose it. I filled it with a handful of erasers from an old 4th grade pencil case and placed it on my desk. I continued like this for two hours and managed to get through one shelf. I had recycled a few magazines and an empty paper clip box, but other than that everything I had gone through was simply arranged somewhere else in my room. Frustrated, I decided to call it quits. This had happened many times before. Whenever I try to do a deep clean of my room and get rid of stuff, I end up just unearthing old objects, finding reasons to keep them, and relocating them. Is it because I’m too sentimental to get rid of things? Deep down do I actually want my room to stay exactly the same as it’s been for the past seven years? 148

When I was younger, I remember reading a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book where a grandmother says to her grandson that he should stop trying to grow up so fast, because childhood flies by, and if you’re not careful, before you know it you’ll have missed it. When I read this, I distinctly remember pausing and reflecting. It stood out to me because I’ve always been obsessed with the passage of time, on both a small and large scale level. I stress myself out all the time about growing up too quickly. My dad sometimes jokingly likes to call me an ‘old soul’ for this reason. When I was younger, and now sometimes too, I would join in on certain activities even if I didn’t necessarily want to, just because I used to do them as a younger child and I wanted to try to preserve them. For instance, a few years ago around Christmastime, realizing that the items on my wish list had shifted from the usual toys and little playthings to clothes and beauty products, I freaked out and immediately flipped through a toy catalog to find a toy to put on my wish list. The only reason for this is that I have distinct memories from when I was younger of flipping through Mastermind Toys catalogs with a pen marking all of the things I wanted. I ended up just writing ‘Some fun toy’ at the bottom of my list, to show my mom that I was still young enough to appreciate toys. A few years ago, I used to have a thing about wearing clothes that I didn’t even like very much, only because they were things I used to love when I was younger. I think wanting to keep my room the way it is might be connected to that same desire to slow the passage of time. Maybe preserving both the objects from my childhood as well as the same bedroom I had when I was younger is an attempt to delay the inevitable change of growing up. The item ‘Clean room’ is constantly bumped around on my to-do list. Even when I do tidy up a bit, I still never feel compelled to cross it off. Maybe I will never really be able to get rid of all the nonessential things packed into my room—books and unused gifts and makeup samples and random trinkets and toys. Maybe all these things will stay exactly where they are until I leave for college, and even then maybe my parents will leave my room as it is, allowing dust to slowly collect over every item. And maybe every time I visit home I will still talk about really and truly ‘cleaning’ my room. But for now, I will keep my room filled with memories and relics, as if maintaining my room and all my possessions exactly the same preserves the simpler times from which they came. Joline F.


Connection On Mondays around 4, on Tuesdays around 2, on Wednesdays around 6, on Thursdays around 4 again, and on Fridays the same as Wednesdays. We never said hello, though I tried to begin a rapport, you never seemed to want to. You would sit there in your folding chair waiting for someone to buy a bottle of water, or soda, a pretzel and on the rarest of occasions a hot dog out of its murky bath. A murky bath that if I were you on chilly afternoons would have stuck my hands into to warm myself up. I never told you that though, because you did not accept my offer of rapport. Some mornings we made eye contact but it never held long enough to turn into a smile or a glare. Eye contact was all it was ever going to be. I knew that you had been up since 5 in the morning, at the latest, getting your cart ready for those who were going to buy your waters and sodas, a pretzel and on the rarest of occasions, a hot dog. Now that I think about it, you’re gone. I don’t know where you went, but the thai food smell took over your spot. The man who makes thai food stands in his cart. His window is closed most of the time, so we’ve never made eye contact in hopes that it leads to rapport. I guess I never appreciated our connection. Ruby K.


Remembering To Forget (Sunday 10:23pm) Hold his hand. Hold his face. Search for something that you both know went missing years ago, and not just with the onset of “life”. {Sunday 10:04 pm) Search for an Item. Any Item. You pick up the lilac vase. Bad choice. It was his grandmother’s. You pause wondering if you are really this angry, or is this just part of the show. Frustrated at the thought, you hurl it at him with the hopes that it would only break his infidelity, not his entire left knee. You wonder, did you really just become that person? (Sunday 8:20pm) He’s still not home yet. You know why. You don’t know what the rest of the night is going to look like but one thing’s for certain, one of you won’t be in this house tomorrow. Nervous and queasy, you question if you should eat. Don’t eat. Anger is best fueled by an empty stomach. You fidget around in your seat, wondering if you were just over exaggerating. You weren’t. You know you weren’t. With that thought you feel your eyes stinging as tears well up. Let it out. (Sunday 3:51pm) You call his phone. It rings out. You call his phone again. The same thing happens. You wait before the third time. Always wait before the third time. You call, hoping for a different outcome. It remains the same. You stare at the black phone screen in your hand. Maybe it’s you, you think to yourself. You know it’s not. You look up, into the car across the street. You see him. It’s definitely him. He smiles at her. She whispers something in his ear. He laughs. It’s a deep laugh. You feel your breath exit your body. You try to reassure yourself. You question if it’s really that serious, all she did was tell him a joke. Your eyes disprove you. He turns to face her completely. You see him cup her face with his hands. You lean in, hoping that what you think might happen next doesn’t happen. It does. Something shifts inside of you. You check your surroundings. Pick up your keys and drive off. Go somewhere—anywhere—just not here. (Sunday 3:38pm) Put in the key. Your car engine sputters. You hold onto the wheel, trying to steady yourself from all the betrayal you feel. You down your head, trying to figure out if it’s even worth it to go out and find him. They always say, don’t go searching for something you don’t want 151

to find. You sigh. Raising your head, you put the car in drive remembering that the worst has already happened. You put in the address of her job, wondering if what you are doing is even legal. It’s not. Wiping the thought out of your head, you begin to drive, hoping you aren’t too late. You aren’t. (Sunday 3:00pm) He tells you that he has to run and pick up some milk from the grocery store. You know what’s going on. It stings your heart, leaving you to wonder—has this been happening from the beginning? Your mind runs on the carton of unopened milk, sitting in the back of the fridge. How stupid could he be? You nod your head in compliance, hoping that it fools him. It does. Watch him get ready. You notice that he is rushing to put on his shoes, and almost trips as he gets his keys. You wonder if you should offer to help. Don’t do it. He might question this sudden act of generosity and rethink what he is about to do. As he reaches for the door, he does something different—something strange. He pauses and looks you in the eye with a hint of guilt. He stays put for a solid 5 seconds before faintly saying I love you. It happened so fast that you question if the words that formed on his tongue were a secret confession. They were. Remember that. (Saturday 11:09pm) He kisses you goodnight. He has that same smell again. Her perfume is strong. You pretend that you were already asleep. He knows you aren’t. It’s the same as always. Maxlyn W.


I want to touch a horse To think I’ve never touched a horse. But then again, the world is full of details and aspects of life that I have yet to experience: like starfruit, hot rain, or a sunset that is the most beautiful. But giving a sunset such an epic title as that is something I feel as though I’m not equipped to do. I leave that to the poets and painters, or the people with enough trust in their hearts to let themselves see such beauty and admit it. I do not think they are geniuses, no. In fact, they are dumber than most. They close their eyes when they sleep and wake up as if they’re the exact same. But I am no better than them. I like hydrangeas and picture watercolor landscapes when I listen to piano on the train; and I’m still waiting for the perfect moment to touch a horse. Phoebe W.


The Coffee Cart You wait patiently as a woman buys twenty eggs. You can almost taste the iced coffee you’re going to have. It’s already there waiting, they know you come every morning. You pay in all quarters. Once you’re on your way you realize that the woman with the eggs was Emily Blunt. Therapist’s Waiting Room Careful not to make noise as you walk in, you sit and stare at the closed (white) door. You could go to the bathroom, but decide you don’t want to miss the door opening. Instead you sit on one of the cushioned chairs and think, how was your week? A Distant Relative She looks at you with a huge smiling face saying how much you’ve grown since you last saw her. You find out that was the day you were born. She proceeds to tell you vivid details about said day. You smile politely and think to yourself whether she told you her name, or who exactly she’s fourth cousins with. The G Train - Above Ground It’s no longer black out the windows. A little girl is standing on the bench to look out the window, you fight the urge to do the same. The Gowanus Canal looks nice. You wonder what it might be like to swim in it, but remember you could wind up being mutated by the toxic waste. Your thoughts are interrupted by a lady asking for money. As the doors close behind her, you catch her running to the car. Her wounded leg temporarily forgotten. I-95 Rest Area Food Court You wait in line patiently to buy ten piece chicken nuggets. The lady who takes your order is wearing a hat with sparkles on it. You wonder if you should have ordered a soda. Somebody else takes your nuggets. You walk outside, defeated. As you approach your car, you see that your dad is in a screaming match with a lady. Her license plates say New Jersey, you now see the problem. Nina D.


Eight Ways of Looking at an Egg I The world wakes To the cry of the rooster and to the Bright new egg peeking over the horizon. II They say the moon is made of cheese, But as always, they are wrong. The moon is a cold waxen egg. III The wind howls And the river runs And the fire burns And the egg will wait. IV Lately, The roads are paved Of eggshells. V An egg has energy, Potential, SchrÜdinger-type energy, That of a bomb. VI The ovoid is the only true form. The egg is the only true being. VII The wine sours in the glass. The question hangs in the air. The eggshells are left on the counter. VIII The egg came before the chicken. That’s final. Violet D.


You wind down unfamiliar staircases through unfamiliar hallways with no discernable route. Google Maps says it’ll be another ten minutes on foot, but the monster is chasing you so it recalculates. You’re barefoot, and your dress is flowy and sheer and off-white. The monster, who is really just a representation of the author’s several miscarriages, doesn’t seem to like you very much. The hallway leads you to a library. Inside, there are books about law and linguistics and the Green New Deal. You lock the door. You look for an open window, but you cannot leave because you are a domestic character. You’re panting and your bosom rises and falls. At this point, you may or may not faint, depending on the time period. The monster knocks and you do not let it in but it comes in anyway and it’s a metaphor. You throw a book at it, which flies right through its torso. You’re frightened. It makes some horrible noise which would make even the bravest of men shudder. You run and you run and your feet never get dirty and the monster never really kills you but it might. Shai B.


Post-Romantic Yesterday, everything was possible. Today we’re as good as dead. You may not want to hear it, but I have a rather self-destructive Predilection towards defense. Because of this, I will find a Post -Modern way to kindly explain to you that I Can Not Be in A R elationship With You Or Anyone. Afterwards, I will go home an d put on The White Album and when Sexy Sadie comes on I wi ll sigh heavily, Rapunzelish, and think about Relationships and h Ow beautiful they are. This is all, of course, total bullshit. Joan D idion predicted it in 1961; my self-respect is pinned to doubtful a mulets such as being well-groomed, being a person who truly enj oys The White Album, and having the ability to Possess A Room . The ability to Possess A Room is in theory not a doubtful amul et, but in practice, as well as in the context of Teenagers, comes off Garish as if a plot point; a moment where the viewer can see more about my character, The More about my character be ing that I must be one of those girls with long blonde h air cruising down a California highway in a Mustang convert ible, listening to Miss You by the Rolling Stones. Because I orch estrate this it is an extremely doubtful amulet, doubtful to t he extent that it is absurd: mythical behavior. My Post-Romanticism is perhaps a Post-Modern way to ad dress my Pre-Self-Respect. In a painting, a woman sits down to read a poem, the poem is “One Train May Hide Another”. She gets up to make a cup of tea, but in her cupboard she does not find Earl Grey or English Breakfast or any kind of Jasmine something--No, she finds another, smaller, but to scale, painting of a woman sitting down to read a poem in a room that


looks exactly like her own, and upon reading the fine print realizes that this woman is also reading “One Train May Hide Another”. The woman chuckles and closes the cupboard so as to begin what she had sat down to do in the first place. The woman looking at the painting in the museum decides she is done looking at it, and notices her husband dawdling by a bust of Aristotle, he is having no thoughts whatsoever about the bust or Aristotle, and the woman thinks to herself that this Relationship was Not Worth The Risk. And all the while there is a poet writing this, and you believe she is referencing Kenneth Koch’s poem, “One Train May Hide Another”, when in fact she is only riffing off of a Mark Strand poem, “Reading in Place”. Thus one poem may hide another, so be sure to check under the bed of the first so as to avoid an unsuspected attack via the second. At this moment, the poet realizes one person may hide another— she looks up at her lover and finds that standing directly behind him is herself, or a version of herself. While her lover looks at her and sees only her, she looks at him and sees him and herself. They are sitting outside. The grasses rustle and a flea flits past her view, and whispers to her that in order to have self-respect one must go home and find themselves waiting for them, and thus not run into themselves in strange places, for example in parks. While this is happening, the woman in the museum looking at the painting and the woman in the painting and the woman in the similar painting in the cupboard share a wink. The poet walks into a simple, sarcastic love poem and realizes she has arrived at her own home and found no one there. Zibia B.


The Lion and the Gazelle The two animals sit in a forest clearing. Aside from the occasional chirp of a cricket, they are alone. They appear bored, almost as if they are in a waiting room for a doctor’s appointment that neither animal believes they need.

GAZELLE Is it just me or is it cold out here?

A moment passes.

It doesn’t feel that cold.

No it’s definitely cold.



LION I suppose I have been warmer in the past.


How is the pride?


LION It’s the same. We haven’t had a tiff with another pride since my parents, which has made for a good life. A slow life, filled with nice long sleeps, and of course the occasional hunt. Long pause.


GAZELLE Well you really ought to start a tiff sometime soon. It really is bad form to sit around all day sleeping. Your family is going to lose faith in you, Lion. Better show some confidence and remind everyone who you are. LION yawns. GAZELLE walks a pace in the opposite direction of LION.

I suppose.


Beat. Gazelle gains a burst of energy. GAZELLE It is really ridiculous Lion. Walking around like a house cat like that. Next thing you know you’ll be eating out of a palm in some zoo.

LION Zoo doesn’t sound too bad. Lots of sleep, no tiffs.

GAZELLE NO IT DOESN’T! I would rather die.


Okay. Me too.


A few moments pass. There is a slight rustle in the surrounding bushes and ferns. GAZELLE and LION both leap to attention, and stand on edge.


Another few moments pass, feeling like an eternity to the two animals.

Did you hear that?

GAZELLE (Whispering)

Beat. No.

LION (Whispering)

They both settle back into their previous positions.

How about you?

What do you mean?

How have you been?


GAZELLE Fine… great. I’ve been so good Lion. So so good. I have been doing a lot of running, you know, gearing up for… well you know. I’m in shape. Found a new field just a few miles West— more grass than you could possibly imagine. But I don’t eat too much of it, I just know that it’s there.

Well that’s great.


Pause. GAZELLE It’s hard to find a good patch of grass these days. Not many can do it. I did it, but not everyone can do what I can do, Lion. I’m like a kite that cuts itself free from the string. 161

I’m going places. Further west maybe. (Pause) Aren’t I, Lion? LION


Just yeah?




Silence. Another rustling, louder this time. LION and GAZELLE are again on the edge of their seats, prepared for fight, or flight. Anything to avert whatever lurks behind the bushes. Another silence, painfully long, broken by LION. LION

What are we waiting for, Gazelle?

GAZELLE You know what we are waiting for.

LION I suppose I do. What can we do to stop it?

GAZELLE You said that you enjoy the occasional hunt.

Well I can’t say that I enjoy it.


GAZELLE displays his neck with a proud gesture.



Go on.



LION We’re not all like that. I can’t, I’m just trying to survive.

Another noise is heard. LION and GAZELLE freeze once more. The noise continues this time, getting louder and louder. Subdued voices can be heard offstage. GAZELLE extends his hoof out to LION. LION rests his paw on GAZELLE’S extended hoof. The lights cut out and two gunshots are heard. End. Sam N.


Quarantine Three pairs of black pants, slung over the shower curtain rod, drip their dyes ominously into the tub. The bathroom is not large to begin with, and the pants cut off a third of the space. When I look away, those wet shadows creep across my peripherals. Closing in. I generally avoid this bathroom except to brush my teeth in the morning. For most of my life, I used this one exclusively, but now when I step into the tub all I can think of is broken bones: that debilitating itch under the cast, running hot water over my left foot, trying to keep the smell away. Fortunately, we have a second bathroom. The light in there is a warmer color, and besides, it’s closer to my room. In my room, I spend a lot of time in other places. I crawl inside my computer and do the best I can to entertain myself. Most of the time, I keep a FaceTime tab open, the closest I can get to putting my head on a shoulder. We listen to music punctuated by occasional complaints. We’ve run out of things to talk about, tired of looping the same conversations over and over, in just the way that the days are passing. When my eyes start to burn from the screen, I lie down and shuffle through memories. When I was younger someone told me that every time you recall a memory, you’re really recalling the last time you remembered it. I think about that a lot, and feel my memories distorting the more I touch them. A few have this patina over them, scabs over a spot scratched too often and too deep. I avoid those for fear of losing them. But some, when they blur, sweeten as well. I hear a certain song and I’m on a cold beach, the strings of my sweatshirt cinched all the way against the wind, remembering something else. The Long Island Sound crashing on shell fragments is the soundtrack for my heart breaking, for the end of love, for seeing over and over the moment I became alone. And somehow, these tangled images feel like tea with honey to me now. I miss the beach and the broken heart. What I’d do to go back to that beautiful place, where I was crying. I do get outside a bit. I go up to the roof at least twice a week and I put on lipstick to do it. The roof of my apartment building is where the nineteenth floor would be. 190 feet in the air. That high up, everything looks just the same as it did two months ago. Manhattan skyscrapers would never let on about what chaos happens in and around them. I even went for a walk the other day. I had gloves on, and a mask. I miss being the type of girl who wears rings. I used to wear a big green stone on my right index finger, glittering purple on the others, like a pigeon’s neck. The pigeons, in fact, are as populous as ever. I went cautiously to Union Square, and saw a man sitting on a bench with a circle of birds around him, the first of three men in the park who were there to feed the pigeons. Union Square was desolate by its usual standards, but crowded for a quarantine, with about one person per bench. Quite a few were 164

eating McDonald’s. I suppose these were essential workers. They didn’t look to be the sort of people who have a second home to retreat to. There was a man drumming wildly on buckets for an empty pavilion. I watched him for a while. A woman came over to give him money, and darted away the instant the bills dropped from her hand, as though she’d touched a fire. The sound floated out into the street, unobstructed by bodies. I was so focused on keeping my distance from a man clearing his throat that I brushed against a woman on a bench. She started to cough and I startled visibly. Immediately I felt that contaminated feeling. When I made it back home I sprayed my gloves with Lysol and disposed of the mask. I stepped into the shower, washed my body twice with soap. Your mother has asthma, my father had reminded me. It won’t be good if she gets sick. I went into the claustrophobic bathroom and sat on the edge of the bathtub. The walls pressed towards me, and for once it felt comforting, like a cocoon. Isabel Y.


In the beginning, there was nothing but silence, warmth, and black. Then on the first day, Me said, “let Me out,” and it was thus. Me was the creator of Me’s Universe, And then there was Me, and there were various Yous too and big hands and small toes And then on the 9th month, Me walked and walked until smalls toes became calloused. And on the 1st year, Me spoke, and Me said, “let me in,” and it was thus. And on the 7th year, Me learned to ride a bike and scraped knees with gravel and blood between skin. And on the 11th year, Me cried until a pool of water arose in their brain. The water rose, and on the 12th year, Me took swimming lessons. On the 13th year, Me, “blossomed,” and soon Me became overwhelmingly aware of all the other Me’s and You’s in-between. On the 14th year, Me created an island. An Island big or small depending on the circumstances, that was nested between vertebrae. The Island was an isolating or inviting place, and Me would spend time on this Island. The Island would move between vertebrae, to cellulite, to callouses, to layers of skin, between teeth and gum, rested on an eyelash. The Island was an easy place to get lost, and sometimes the Island had storms. On the 15th year, the Island had a storm so big Me was so scared they up and left. On the 16th year, Me was still missing; the Island was so big and lonely it had taken the whole of Me and left them lost between all the Yous and layers of skin. In the 17th year, Me refound Me and settled back between the bones. The Island bloomed. Me created a sky, purple, and full of light, and Me let all its creations on this Island run free once again. Joy was there. She was small, and sweet, and tasted like lemons and watermelon on a hot summer night. She was honey, and she dripped all over Me. She was a beautiful, sticky hot summer night in June with friends, the kind where one feels like they can taste 166

the whole of the world. Me was spinning and Joy was too. They kicked sand and splashed in the water; the moon was big but comforting. On the Island Me let all their creations run free, even the monsters. Grief, Pain, Guilt, they lived nestled on the Island like bad dreams. Lurking underneath all the water inside Me and all the things left between. But the creation Happiness still stood molded out of clay, and good memories, the good kind of tears, laughs from the ones Me loved. And Me loved a whole lot. Langston S.



( i want

a window

tattooed on my chest

just to make it

clear )

rain falls in time with song

i stand on a quiet street corner


i do a lot of waiting (my sneakers have holes in the heels so i switched them out for boots) my umbrella’s got a tear in it cool cool water


anywayi wrestle with a lot: here


wet wet sidewalk whole cities gone dark inch deep

puddles slipping across tile watch how cold Curls into me ((could it be- u and me)) heart like bird bones ((fragile

hollow i am)) mist hangs around streetlamp ((holdmecloser is what i mean)) unkind authority and

a few mistakes a light blue scion rolls up to curb late i get in the passenger side Jessina N.


Le Café du Loup Le Café du Loup was one of the lesser-known establishments in the 6th arrondissement, having long stood in the shadow of Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore and even Brasserie Lipp, where tourists congregated like herds of sheep each summer to graze where Hemingway, Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir ate their croissants and sipped their espresso. However, Jeffery Bittenbinder hated most writing, and no writers ate at Le Café du Loup, probably because the food was terrible and the dark-oak room barely let in any light through its narrow, curtained windows. The croissants, though store-bought and frozen (a secret unsuccessfully kept under lock-and-key), were excellent. Jeffery had moved to Paris twenty-five years ago in an effort to leave all of his mistakes behind. To his credit, it worked, and he hadn’t thought about them in the twenty-five years since. He also hadn’t bothered to learn the language in the quarter of a century he’d spent here. Instead, he relied on his digits to display to the baker the number of pastries he wanted that morning. Jeffery’s neighbors...well, you know how French people are. The young couple and old lady that sandwiched Jeffery’s tiny apartment didn’t care for Americans before Jeffery moved in. You don’t need me to tell you how they felt in the years since. One morning Jeffery sat in his usual spot, perfectly triangulated to be as far away from the windows and lavatories as possible, and read La Dépêche de Paris (poorly translated in English to The Paris Report). He browsed the dense rows of text, taking in pieces of information here and there. Needless to say, Jeffery did not absorb the morning paper with the same rigor he once did, but today he was especially adrift in thought. One of the aforementioned mistakes of which he was now so wonderfully free had begun to nag at the corner of his brain, just enough to cause him a mild level of discomfort—the type which he had moved to Paris in part to avoid. It was the thought of a woman; not the buoyantly plump one who had just taken a seat across the cafe from him, though she may have precipitated the inexorable freight train of thought that was to come. No, it was a woman from his past (one he might refer to as an “old flame” if she ever comes back into his mind in twenty years or so). She was a woman who crossed his path in New York shortly after he became a bachelor of the liberal arts. Her name eluded Jeffery, who had now altogether forfeited any attempt to read about the new public fountain in Le Marais, but her face appeared in his mind’s eye as vaguely yet persistently as the dimly lit cafe in front of him. She was pretty, with blonde— no, light brunette—hair and eyes that were a whimsical shade of green, or perhaps a somber gray. Yes, Jeffery remembered her clearly now. Rather, he had constructed three versions of her with slight variations, one of which was bound to match reality, he was sure of it! But her name still evaded his tongue’s grasp. 171

When Jeffery was finished with his studies in New York, he had decided to try to find work as a journalist. The Village Voice’s assistant fact-checker had serendipitously died in a horrible fiery car wreck on the snowy drive up to his familial abode in Westchester just a week prior, so Jeffery spent his summer days bathed in the windowless off-green fluorescence of the head fact-checker’s office. Jeffery’s desk, no more than a foot wide, was shoved in the corner behind the constantly opening and closing door (Jeffery learned the hard way not to lean too far to the right when bent over a stack of papers). The head fact-checker, Moses Fernsby, was a man who had a vehement disdain for oral hygiene. He wore wire-framed glasses that hooked violently into the backs of his ears and gripped for dear life onto the tip of his bulbous nose. He and Jeffery never talked, save for Jeffery’s last day when Fernsby reminded him to return any pencils he might’ve “accidentally” stolen. “Well, what does all this have to do with the old flame?!” you might be asking by this point. To be honest, I don’t know, and Jeffery didn’t know either, but these memories were coming back to him unrelentingly and all he could do was reC. and enjoy the theater of his own mind unraveling. Sarah MacQuoid. It came to him as suddenly as a hiccup, a series of which took him hostage just as the name was about to float out of his lips. He downed a glass of water and ardently spelunked the cavities of his memories for more information. She had been a beat journalist who covered everything from Carmine Street to Washington Square Park. She walked disturbingly quickly, and would often breeze by Jeffery at lunch as he reveled in a cheese sandwich. Sarah would frequent the fact-checker’s office with fresh, fiery manuscripts to be combed through. In fact, she was the one who smashed the door into Jeffery’s head as he leaned over his first assignment. She apologized profusely, clutching one hand to her chest and resting the other firmly but tenderly on his shoulder. She offered him an ice pack; he refused, insisting he was fine, and she went on her way. Jeffery fell madly in love with her. In the subsequent months of his employment, Jeffery avoided her at all costs. He feared the passionate burning of his love would quickly be extinguished by the disappointing reality of all human beings. From afar, she reminded him of the softly-lit and glowing “girls in the movies.” If Jeffery ever found himself pressed shoulder-to-shoulder with her in the elevator, however, he’d begin to notice her ever-so-slightly foul odor. If he sat across from her at lunch, the smoothness of her skin would transform into the texture of an overripe tangerine. These harsh realities soon became overwhelming for Jeffery, and he found himself more and more isolated throughout his brief tenure. One evening, just as the workers flooded out of The Village Voice headquarters and into the streets, Sarah approached Jeffery despite his valiant effort to become immediately and wholly absorbed in the gum smeared into the crack of the pavement beneath him. She got his attention with a whistle 172

and, to Jeffery’s horror, invited him to her birthday party that Saturday. As she asked if she could count on him being there, Jeffery had already begun cycling through the thousands of different excuses he had on file in his mind, but none seemed just right. He had waited too long. He had to say something. “I’d love to,” he recited with obligatory cheer, “but...I’m moving to Paris. I’ll be out of the country by Friday night.” And so, Jeffery found himself fervently making arrangements for his sudden departure. It was now late afternoon. The light lazily trickled through the seams of the curtain and the very infrequently opened doorway. The plump lady and Jeffery made eye contact. She smiled at him and evaporated into the bright Parisian day. To the outside observer, Jeffery might’ve seemed to be in a lifeless stupor, but in actuality, he felt more alive than ever. Sarah MacQuoid! How could he have forgotten her? When Jeffery booked his ticket to Paris twenty-five years ago, he told himself she was the primary reason for his departure. But that was a lie. There were many things that troubled Jeffery Bittenbinder, many troubles worth escaping. He had forgotten the minutiae of his old life; the wrinkles in his brain had been reformed by Le Café du Loup and its reheated croissants, The Paris Report, and Parisian women he never slept with. Lucien B.-T.


National Intelligence Matter The man was tall, around 6’3”, but no taller. He was dressed in normal national intelligence attire, wearing pleated black high waters that exposed his long white socks to the musty air of downtown Brooklyn. His velcroed dress shoes looked cleanly polished, his red handkerchief folded directly over the chest pocket of his suit. The left curl of his brilliantly combed mustache shifted north to make way for his uncomfortably unappealing smile. He made his way toward the new recruit. In almost an instant, his face became as serious a man going to war, his body, rigid and immovable. Every muscle fiber in his face locked into position. Eyes focused, no other movement made. Neither blinked, although one eye crinkled, if only for a second, to immediately fall back into place. A smile began to form on the recruit’s face, and he said something. Although only a murmur, it meant everything. “Who the fuck is this guy?” Other things were spoken, but nothing of consequence. Probably words along the lines of, “What is up with this guy’s eyes? Mechanical as hell.” Or maybe, “Are those velcro shoes?” Truth be told, it doesn’t matter. The conversation that followed is of the most importance. “Hello …. Bro? Welcome, to, uhhhhh…..” The man in the suit paused to swallow a wad of phlegm that had been growing in the back of his throat since their eyes made contact. “Welcome to national intelligence.” The man uncrinkled the lining of his suit, and shifted his mustache north once more. The recruit laughed, as though he thought the man was joking. “Uhhhhh…. What the fuck?” the recruit said amidst chuckling. “Maybe I misheard you, alotta traffic at this moment. By the way, your pant leg is stuck in your sock.” “Oh. Goodness me. My pant leg is stuck in my sock. I should fix it.” The man made no move to fix his pant leg. Nothing happened. Still, nothing. “Well, uhhhh.. I guess I’ll be going. Nice to—” “Stop,” the velcro man stated in a deep voice. “Well. Now that you said stop, I guess I should—” “Take this envelope. Inside. You will find what you need to know. Welcome to—” “What the fuuuccckkkk? Are you good? Cause I’m good, but are you good? Good, better, okay.” The recruit moved to slide past the man. “Stop.” The man’s eyes became rigid once again. “Open the envelope.” “Okay man. I’ll do whatever it is you want, and then I’ll just be—” “Open…. The envelope.” The recruit moved to open it. “Wait. You must be precise about this. Any single misstep, any single mistake, how174

ever small, will produce a national crisis.” “So, uhhhh… What should I do then?” “Open the envelope.” “Okay. Open the envelope.” The recruit began to concentrate intensely. With one hand he ripped open the seal. The bomb flew out into the musty air, the pin fell into the recruits hand. “Noooooooaaaoooooooaaaooooooaaaaooooo!” the man in the suit shouted. Wind blew slowly through his hair, creating a beautifully slow flow. Every strand accounted for, all blowing in unison. Every fiber, glistening, like on a hot summer day at the beach, when a breeze would go by, and the man would stare slowly at the girls in bikinis. Oh, yeah, my bad, sorry. The bomb was thrown into the air slowly, almost perfectly. It bounced off the side of a Starbucks window, hit a parking sign, then a meter, then a car, then the ground, bouncing, bouncing, against the tip of the man in the suit’s mustache as he slowly stared at it in awe, and then right into the recruit’s hand. As a matter of fact, right onto its pin. The recruit let out a large sigh. “You have completed your mission. Welcome to the—” The bomb exploded slowly. The man in the suit’s eyes widened. “Noooooaaaaooooooaaaaoooooooooo!” His cheeks rippled underneath his mustache. His face shaking back and forth in the soundless wind. The bomb exploded. All was silent. Actually, all was very noisy. A little too noisy. It was a nuclear bomb. A big one. I guess it fit inside an envelope so maybe not really that big. Lukas K.


Quiet I. It comes on when snow falls on an endless plain, each flake delicately laying itself upon the soft bed below; This snow is not filled with the black grime of city streets, no — this snow is innocent, untouched, a pure white settled about me in serenity, and surrounded


by the austere sound of silence. II. It comes on in the afterthoughts of love, lying beside you, my head lain upon your breast; I often find that I love you most during our silence: alone together, the quiet sound of your grace apparent as you stroke my hair, as I listen to your body; I see your hidden beauty most clearly when we are quiet. III. It comes on when the record begins, music weaving calm into my consciousness, silencing my waves of thoughts and bringing peace to my mind; It’s ironic — for sound to bring quiet; sometimes, forgetting that the music spins on, I get lost in those internal rhythms of silence, and I lose track of what goes on around me; this is when I hear the music most — in my times of joy, when all I feel is quiet. Max K. 177

A man sits in a blazing field engulfed by the flames. He feels pain, but doesn’t recognize it. A raspy voice seems to surround him all of a sudden. “Initiating Phase One,” it bellows. The man is startled. Phase one? he wonders. But soon his burning skin falls off and reveals a thin slimy figure. The man is appalled by the appearance of his body. But his screams are unable to escape the confines of his reptilian shape. So he slithers through the flames and out into the open field. “I am lost!” he tries to yell. But his whispers are masked by the din of the roaring flames behind him. So he slithers helplessly towards the darkness ahead. Cloaked in a blanket of black fog, the man soon approaches a chasm. Around him he hears agonizing screams, but all he sees is dark mist. Unable to cross, he waits. But for what, he does not know. The raspy voice returns, cutting off the diminishing screams. “Initiating Phase Two,” it says. The man feels a helplessness descend upon him. “I want to return,” he pleads. But to where, he does not know. And once again his body changes. His glassy scales elongate and stretch, his body threatens to turn inside out. A seam in his chest grows wider and wider, and out from it, a winged creature takes flight. And soon the man realizes he is soaring above the dark mist, and the blazing field is merely a memory. The landscape below him morphs and shifts, illuminated by a never-fading light. And soon he is flying over a seemingly endless stretch of water. His helplessness has been replaced by a profound sense of purpose, and so he forces his wings to move faster. He glides, cutting through the air, and leaving a wispy trail behind him. But soon his wings tire. And he plummets into the water below him, sinking and sinking, until his wings crash on the bottom. And then the voice. “Initiating Phase Three,” it whispers. The man curls into a ball, and he feels jelly-like tentacles slowly force their way out of unseen pores all over his body. Bereft of control, he is carried by the tide. But to where, he does not know. The never-fading light wanes, and soon he is rolling along the endless ground, surrounded by unrelenting water, and a whirlpool of despair. He slowly comes to a halt, and his body crumbles. A man sits in a blazing field engulfed by the flames. Naya M.


A Response: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” Shakespeare, Sonnet 130 I have read your sonnet, as has all the world, I have heard your frumbastic praise of me And thus have decided to give you A similar consideration of The physical qualities you possess Which I believe display your inner beauty Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? While your hair could be compared to a dash of sunlight, Or the treasury of some great sovereign, It is far more apt to compare thy hair, To some lugubrious yolk. From your epidermis’ festering pores Moist orifices secrete a viscous mucus Until they become clogged by chunky curds Boiling in sweat and grime. When you grin, a gelatinous pus squelches out of those burning sores. And your proboscis spews thick, blubberous phlegm. From your jowls oft exudes Some kind of unknowable ooze. While you lather an ointment, reeking of the remnants of a rotting rodent Over these bulbous features And smile at me Maggots crawl under my skin. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? I’d rather not. Oliver Y.


Love me indigo Stop sign, board sign, Billboard in blue Passed weekends and wow did I feel Hard, adult In poems from seventh grade But love was never indigo To color love is To find the fourth dimension In a cube Not a blasphemy, just a mistake My love holds me when I cannot Hold together myself Stands by me as a rosy mirror: A vision of the vulnerable, the good Is the good voice in my head who Knows me better than I do myself Reminds me, just in presence, I am capable of what I doubt, I am worthy even when doubting A love letter to myself is the Time I give myself with my love, fingers entwined, Laughter doubled A shifted base Of where I am who I am and Where who I could be is born Dancing, we dance indigo Navy as the night, Violet as the music Loving, we love simply Without descriptions but for how it affects us Without color as heaven must be Skye R. 180

The Forest In between The Wood and The City lies The Forest. One stays in the in-between, one dares not to cross the border. One could not physically, you must stay in The Forest. It’s beautiful—the hospitable branches, the yellow weeds, the fortune providing clovers, the grey-turquoise sky, the suffocating amount of oxygen, the apartments that the mushrooms are in, the spacious valley and hill, covered in evergreen row houses. It’s the perfect place to raise a family. To grow old in, to run in. The perfect place for one’s suffering. For one’s unreliable struggle with buoyant pain. You do not die in The Forest, you live in it. You surround yourself with neighbors that are philanthropic to The Wood and The City, by those who are charitable to the not-so-lonely places of death. Our place is The Forest. The place of the blossoming apricot fairy homes, the place where black bears frolic in the treetops, here, one is warmed by broken down trees—warmed by deforestation. The Forest bustles in the wind—every now and then, one receives a generous wave from a falling leaf. A butterfly, a dragonfly, a moth, a firefly may comb through one’s hair. The Forest has the protesters of pollen pollution, but also the bees and wasps at the work of their flowers—their sweet honeys. The saps, sugars and honeys of The Forest are greater than the positive effect of a well-purposed cocoon. The Forest lights are the most spectacular thing. The crawlers of the navy sky have eyes that powerfully and wonderfully reinterpret the stars. Oh! The stars, which are anchored in a way to cater to the tadpoles and chicks as cradling night lights. Here, in The Forest, one lives. One’s scent is lost if banished, if exiled to The City or to The Wood. At one’s return, you are not welcomed, you are disoriented and dissociated. The worst thing about traveling beyond to The City or to The Wood: one is no longer permitted in The Forest. The bloodhounds cannot trace your scent anymore. You are completely faded—which is the worst thing. Soleil P.


Purple In the green of spring, all through the day, the girls lived down in the coppice that the family called the garden. Here were trees large enough to hide and ample foliage to catch the mind of a younger talent and when a large enough breeze whistled through the trees both minds would look up, accompanying each other in a simple few seconds of captivation. In the evenings, the two would sit down for a quiet after-dinner movie inside Casco fog. And later, one would slip into sleep with the hazy image of the other sitting in bed, illuminated by the glow of her reading light and framed by a shadow in the point of a gothic church. Today, Evie would wake up before her sister and mesmerized by a cup of water that had fallen over in the night, finger treasure maps into the floor. Jane would wake up soon after and watch her, envious of her unconcious wanderings. Jane never liked Evie. Evie lived in the childhood of wandering and Jane lived in the adolescenthood of discovery, a road that there was little else but harm and dissatisfaction along. Jane had early on in her adolescenthood learned that growing up is a mystery in which you are trying to solve your parents, and that her parents were easily solvable. Her father had a grudge against people, all people, people he didn’t know and people he would never meet. He constantly abused people to Jane, behind their backs, and to her disgust she discovered that his targets were often women, with character much like her mother. Her mother was everything of greed and indulgence, and her guilt over her lack of affection for adolescent Jane was replaced by the thought that the children she raised were intelligent and pretty, and that as babies, she had offered them all the love and kindness of a caring mother. As a baby, Jane had blind love and happiness, simplicity and ignorance, all the pretty primal qualities that she watched Evie indulge in. But at thirteen Jane was filled with all the depression and anger-management issues, the anxiety and self-hatred that came along with discovering that the two people she blindly loved and respected for all this time, were truly unhappy and that the familiar misery they saw in Jane would forever be unspoken, or else they might have to recognize their own miseries. So into the garden they must go. Jane, to plant herself under the quiet green of nature where she might grow on, and Evie, to wander on into a place where one saw leaves and bramble and she saw buried treasure. The garden was all of summer today. A healthy dose of white light bled into the leaves and trees and conjured a dry heat that snuffed out the damp woody smell that the garden usually took on in the spring. Every tree stood taller and stronger and in the stress 182

of the light, offered a deeper shade that comforted Jane. Thick summer beetles punctuated papery plants and little ant hills capitalized bare patches of earth, and as Jane read the scenery, Evie ran. Jane loved to watch Evie. She was one of those children who drew people in. Her animation was endearing and her love of mischief fun and when she ran around in a buzz, her fervor jumped up at you like a laugh to the throat. “Jane, I’m building ships.” “Okay, Evie.” “Your ship is smaller than mine, okay?” “Okay.” A pause followed as Jane traveled back to her thoughts and Evie to her ships. “Do you want to see?” “See?” “The ships.” Jane walked over to the ships and let Evie instruct her observations. The ships were made of sticks and dirt, loosely translated from boats on Sebago lake. They were made in haste and with no detail, and yet they were fascinating in shapes not manicured, but authentic to Evie’s perception. “And this one is a big bad ship, for prisoners!” “What prisoners?” “Hey, you, go away!” Jane looked up to see Evie kick a bird that had landed on one of her ships. The bird fell over in an ugly hunk and was throwing its limbs about in search of uprightness. “Evie, what is wrong with you?!” Evie looked at her in a mix of confusion and guilt as Jane ran over to the little shrieking bird. “Oh gosh,” Jane muttered as she bent over to view a deep cut on its wing. “Why did you do that?” Jane asked out of shock rather than anger, but Evie was no longer there. She turned back to the bird and tried to pick it up, but it avoided her, stumbling as it flew away. Jane paused and waited in case it came back, and when it didn’t, she left the garden for the house. The garden paused and waited in case she came back, and when she didn’t, it continued to grow. Jane entered the kitchen to find Evie eating purple carrots and her mother opening packages on the floor. 183

“Evie, why did you run away?” “Oh good, Jane, sweetheart, what do you think of this coat I ordered? It’s nice, isn’t it? I can get you a matching one too. I like this blue, but there’s also green.” “Mom, did Evie tell you what happened?” “No, she looked pale when she came in, so I thought I’d give her something to eat. Look at these carrots. Aren’t they wonderful? Purple! Who knew carrots could be purple?” “Evie?” “Purple, yes, I like purple,” Evie offered in return. “Evie, the bird!” “Oh yes, Mama, there was a bird in the garden. I liked it.” “That’s nice—” “Then why did you do that?” “Do what?” “Evie, you hurt the bird!” Evie shook her head in confusion and bit into a carrot, cracking open the silence of the room with the noise. Jane looked at her in shock, wondering how she couldn’t remember such a thing. “Just now, don’t you remember?” “The purple! The purple! The purple!” “Jane, don’t confuse her. She’s a forgetful child. I was too.” Jane stared in awe at her mother. Of course. Evie was just like her mother. She buried moments of guilt so far down that within an instant she could no longer remember them. For heaven’s sake, her mother had buried so many moments of Jane’s unhappiness that she no longer knew her own daughter! She made a rush toward the door when her mother continued, “Yes, sometimes these things come back to me when my father would blame me for all of his misunderstandings. I was the only one educated in our family, and in my guilt I forgot almost all of my conversations with him, but still they come back to me sometimes. Your father’s sleeping by the way. Don’t wake him please.” Jane, holding her breath, opened and closed the door in slow motion. She looked out at the garden and saw that there were stars dusting the sky and a deep blue unpacking itself over the green. Night had come early, and so she came late, back down to the garden. She sat in the underwater mess of the garden, where everything was dark and blue and lurking, and thought to herself. She was wrong about her parents. She didn’t know all there was to them, and how could she? Her parents were like her, in admiration of Evie’s childhood and lost in their own ages. Childhood had made them the people they were, the person she was, and once they 184

had left it they lost themselves. She could go back to this garden where her childhood took place, and her parents back to the little town in Maine where they grew up, but it would all be different there, aged with them. The only place it would stay the same is inside of themselves, and so they cling to childhood memory, because it’s the only place where they can find themselves. So Jane would never know the depth of her parents, because she didn’t grow up with them, know what they know, feel what they feel. She could only analyze stories and where they were now. Growing up wasn’t all about solving your parents. It was about trying to solve your parents and then yourself. And Evie! How could she blame Evie for being like her mother, when Jane herself was just like her father! She was filled with hatred for all of her family, and yet she never really knew any of them! As her thoughts outgrew her, she heard giggling behind her and Evie burst from the bushes and flung herself over Jane. “Come eat with me? Daddy and Mama are watching the TV and I don’t want to be alone.” Jane took her hand and they walked through the seaweed of the night garden to the house, but not without glancing back to look over the sky, which was gesturing to them in perfect purple. Sydney S.


Anticipation The wooden bench felt solid, unbreakable under me as I waited to perform. Cradling my trumpet between my hand and my lap, I tried half-heartedly to rub the finger-oil stains from the shiny silver valve casings and pipes, to no avail; it merely created more stains framed by the old ones. Sitting next to me were my classmates and teacher, providing an apprehensive encirclement that both elicited and rejected commiseration and empathy. The group two performances before us, also a brass chamber ensemble, was probably playing well but I could not enjoy it—instead I sat in twisted mean-spiritedness, silently wishing mistakes on them in order to lower the room’s standards. A sound that was increasingly recognizable as applause radiated toward us, its clarity a shock to my distorted ears. The next group went up, this time woodwinds. They tuned and then began to play, and I was once again bothered by every pretty turn of musical phrase, every well-balanced chord. One of my classmates stirred from an apparently similar daze and nervously emptied the imaginary saliva from their instrument. The air tasted very faintly like my lunch from earlier in the day, but the odor was most likely from my own mouth instead of the room. All of a sudden the woodwinds were done and we had to go on. As if entering a doctor’s office for vaccination, I gingerly picked up my trumpet and music and walked behind the last column before the stage. I examined the peeling paint on the ridged surface, imagining the hidden audience lying in ambush directly behind it. Flakes and chips of cream-colored paint were missing, but the tree-trunk pillar was unfazed. So sturdy a bastion, it could protect me from the attention forever. I could curl up inside and never face the hyper-energized fear that awaited me. “Go, go!” my teacher yelled at me in a whisper as my classmates walked onto the stage. The first sensation was not the presence of the audience, but rather the light. Blinding and pinkish, it flooded my head, its waves lapping around my nose and breaking on my eyes. Foam and whitecaps were swallowed up by huge crests that drenched my head in the artificial heat and light. There was no way to surf or dive through them. I surrendered in the struggle to adjust my eyes, and instead was relieved to find that the sheets on my music stand (two feet from my head) were visible. The last sense I noticed was the new smell of trumpet grease and metal that had overwhelmed my earlier tastes of lunch. From that point on it seemed as if my trumpet and I were riding on a tide of not only hyper-energized fear, but also of last-ditch optimism. There was nothing more I could do to prepare or improve the performance. Even as I sat on the bench, there was a sense of urgency—I had not been in front of the audience yet, so there was still some absurd recourse for me to prepare right to the very last second. Once you are in the light, however, there is nothing more to be done. Sammy G. 186

Lucidity In my dreams, The human spirit morphs into peaceful commerce. Rules become their exceptions And the ordinary world becomes negligible. Deceit, density, that which is concealed, Is erased and exchanged for the clarity Of a thousand windows which I have come to know as mirrors. In my dreams, What is seen is what is known. The surface is the story. I have loved the stuff of my dreams, I have held onto them, I have even banked on them to emerge in my real life. But after so much time with such true faith in dreams, Such faith seems to have cracked. My subconscious will not follow in the footsteps of a world so removed from reality; A world so wrong, so baked in battered greed. Now when I dream, I cannot shake the knowledge That I am surrounded by the falsehoods Of my singular, stripped-down self, Reduced, in sleep, to a child again. Last night I dreamt I asked a girl I know, “How can it be that your response to what I ask you now will be a product of my own selfish predictions?� It does not matter what she said. When I awoke I noticed that I had forgotten to shut the blinds on my bedroom window. Without fixing them I drifted back into sleep, and found the girl remained there still. But it was not her - it was the seed of my mind that had made this designation. She existed, then, only as fully as I could conjure her in sleep. As this occurred to me, I watched her face become dark and shadowed as it faded to nothing. We stood under the barren light of a streetlamp Which shone down onto her vanished face until all that was left of her 187

Was a grave sort of moth. When I awoke again, I found the blinds of my bedroom window shut as they were supposed to be. Julia F.


The Cries of the Poor Old Train “I can’t run four miles straight.” These were the first words the boy said to Thomas. “It’s too far.” “Of course you can. You must.” This was Thomas’s response. And so the boy set out, running about four miles to the rest of the men, sitting by the same tracks, hidden in a dugout. The boy arrived and told them his message. Wheezing, sweating, sand covered, the boy appeared as Hermes to the tired men nearing the second half of their miserable lives. No boy can run four miles just like that, they thought simultaneously. But here he is. And then he spoke a phrase they all knew was coming, but were yet surprised to hear. “The train’ll be here soon.” “Alright,” responded the smallest man, who seemed to be the leader among them. “Frenchy, you got it all set up?” “Yeah,” was Frenchy’s automatic response. “Alright,” the leader said again. “All you got to do now Frenchy is push down on that wooden tee when that train is comin’ in. And the rest of you, look sharp.” The rest of them, two very similar looking, ghostly, skinny men, both nodded in unison, looking as far from sharp as one can look. The two ghosts stood up and walked back from the track until they were at the foot of the hill adjacent to it, where they crouched behind a log and prepared their small hunting rifles, bearing a strong resemblance to their own figures. The boy, having regained his breath and finally apparent not to be Hermes, pressed on like any other child in the world: “And me, sir?” The leader said, “Take this and go up to the top of that hill. If you catch a glimpse of the law, rain hell on ‘em.” The boy, prepared only slightly to rain hell, grabbed the rifle and ran to the hill as fast as he could, well knowing that the train wouldn’t be there for another few minutes. When he lay down on the partially grassy peak, he could feel his heart beating against the soil, oblivious as to whether or not he would be able to rain hell. The boy sat with a mouth as dry as the powdery dirt on which he lay. All he could think about was how dry his mouth was, but he could not think of how to change his situation. He was stuck there. His mouth would remain dry until it was all over. The cries of the poor old train could now be heard. The boy couldn’t stand the idea of wrenching such a majestic beast from its rightful bed of iron and bolts, and he cringed as Frenchy slammed all two hundred and fifty pounds of his body weight onto the little wooden detonator. With the bang from below, the boy’s chest ceased its agitated stomping on the ground, but only for a moment. All but the leader dashed into the train to rob its passengers of their mortal wealth. 189

A tense silence ensued, as the leader and the boy waited for whatever was next. Screams followed, as the band of greedy pirates stepped out of the train, and filed quickly back to their original positions, to collect themselves and run. But then the boy’s chest was joined by hooves in a parade of stomps, riders in blue. The law reared its ugly, righteous head. The parade swept through the small valley, expertly executing the boy’s employers with loud pops from a safe distance. Like pigs in line for the slaughter, the men left the train car, then left their riches as they moved on to whatever comes next, empty handed. One by one they fell until they had all fallen to the earth they were so desperately running from. Then it was only the boy and the leader. The leader, in a good position for a momentary defense against an unstoppable torrent of power, continued on, striking down a few of his encirclers, making the blue red. Death was everywhere. Death leading to more death. However, the boy was a smart boy. He had been to the first few years of elementary school, and his headmistress had told him of this thing called morality. Much as he hated his headmistress, a sliver of her teachings had burrowed its way into the boy’s head, and he capitulated to it. Or he followed it. In any case, he shot the leader from his perch on the hill and fainted, the stomp reduced to a leisurely stroll. Sam N.


My body is attempting to self-combust (from my very core to the tips of my fingertips) a bubble of hot air trapping me, making the small room even more claustrophobic. There is no way of knowing whether it is self induced or not anymore. No one can tell if anything is ever wrong, for I built my concrete facade a long time ago. I’ve stopped repairing it (as of a few months ago). The cracked wall seeps water and full suitcases and trash. If I snap, it is probably because I haven’t cleaned up my accumulated crap; (I probably haven’t gotten to cleaning up my desk either). Isabel M.



Synesthetic Messiah is Tired of All Your Bullshit Lights up on a man on an empty stage staring the audience down from center stage. There’s a long silence and then the man starts to speak. Man What is this obsession with light? Everywhere I look I see neon and white and bright pinks swirling in glowing greens. They shoot darts at your eyes until you crave more and more and more, when inside of your head and in the dirt there is crimson red and prussian blue and indian yellow and olive green; this life is filled to the brim with sapphire and amethyst. Yet all day long, you lowley insects wrap yourselves with sequins to conceal the flowing, breathing mass of your fleshy ecosystem, the cradle of all color, and scorch yourselves with blowtorches and knives and pale liquor. You, creatures ... crawling, writhing in your … Windex and your … jet-fuel, you rot from the inside out just trying to find that bed of seafoam that you emerged from while your neon quickly depletes it. Beat Shame on you, oil-whores! You nasty, short-sighted, consumerist pigs. Beat I walked through the navy yard yesterday afternoon — the water was slick and sludgy and the sky was bursting with pink pastels, and I sat down on the gravel and cried. Even the cotton beauty of the clouds was stinking with oil and dust and I couldn’t bring myself to understand how something so slimy could give birth to the sweet verbena sky, the iridescent purple and green in the puddles, the dull sienna fog. I suppose this is our incubator — the four horsemen don’t bring tell of neon and white and bright pinks swirling in glowing greens! But hidden in the lining of the clouds and the dark alleys behind the flashing billboards is the sickly cataclysm you run from. It is not invisible, friends, no — quite the opposite — it lures you in with purple desert twilights and routine denial and then all of a


sudden there are FIRES AND FAMINE AND HURRICANES AND FLOODS AND WAR AND FAT MEN PISSING ON TREES CLAIMING THEY ARE SAVING THE RAINFOREST … but because the warmth in your mind has not popped spilling amniotic fluid, you breath in the chaos and you exhale … very slowly … you breathe out sunrises and slow winds and morphine and mundane sitcoms. Beat The only thing left for me to do is grow leaves and plant my roots in the dirt. Down here, it’s cool and it’s damp and it’s dark, and when I sleep I can taste the worms sifting through the crimson red and prussian blue and indian yellow and olive green that gave birth to them. Heath H.


PILEUP Forty-nine-car pileup on the radio. Hum of the empty drive-thru in the right ear, the working one, like being underwater. Absence of sound, not just silence, printed on the left ear. Junior can’t even hear his own heartbeat with it. Headset, broken, is on backwards so he can hear, unless it’s an ugly voice, in which case he doesn’t bother listening. Just sticks a burger and a warm packet of relish out the window, no matter what the order was. Junior lost his hearing in 1998 when his brother was born, 12 years younger than him. His mama’s little accident. His mama’s little trip to San Antonio. Little Accident Antonio, not on the birth certificate but everywhere else. His mama handed little Double A over to him in the hospital so she could sleep. The baby stuck a finger straight into Junior’s left ear, bam bam bam and out again. His mama stayed sleeping so Junior put Accident on the end of the bed and took the bus back home, holding his bloodied t-shirt up to the side of his head. Telephone ring spills into the quiet so he picks it up. He grunts. There’s breath on the other end. “It’s A,” the phone says. Junior lifts a bottle of ketchup and holds it to his eye like a rifle. “Double A. I’m working,” He squirts the ketchup across the kitchen. It arcs, like piss, and lands in the fryer. A small spattering decorates the floor so Junior slides low in his spinning chair and wipes it with the bottom of his red Keds. “Yeah. Hey, tell them you gotta get off early.” “I got customers right now, A.” “Nah.” “What, ‘nah’? There’s a line.” “No one’s ordering from you, dude. I can see you.” Junior stands to peek out of the window. He sees his brother’s car parked on the edge of the exit. He leans out of the window a little to get a closer look and slips on the ketchup, dropping the phone. His pants come unzipped when he bends to pick it up. “Dumbass. Ketchup?” Junior grunts. He holds the phone with his shoulder and zips his pants. “Come on, man. Just close up and come out. We gotta do something.” “I won’t get paid for the night.” “Take a five from the register. They won’t count it.” Junior jogs to the car, five dollars in his back pocket. Accident pops the passenger side’s door. The car’s pristine—white leather, blue floor mats. There’s still a thin sheet of 195

peeling plastic stuck to the front of the steering wheel from when the car was new. There’s a little laminated photograph of Gonzo the muppet hanging from his rearview mirror. “See my lips?” Accident winks at Junior and puts the car in drive. They swing out onto the highway, hips of the car moving side to side as they pick up speed, white Honda flash dancer in the night with tail lights like streamers in the wind. The lips. Junior looks at the passenger side window. There’s a smattering of silvery pink and red lipstick stains on the glass. Some look old and crusted, others fresh and gleaming. Little fangirls pressing their mouths up against the outside of the car, let us in! “How many?” “Sixteen, baby. Rosalie’s that new one by the sticker. This morning.” “How do you get them to do it?” Junior rubs his pinky finger against the stain. It smudges, leaves red under his nail. He wipes his finger on his pants. Accident chuckles. “I don’t know, man. Sometimes, when I ask, they just do it. Sometimes I tell them it’s an art project. You know.” “Huh.” “Anyway, we got shit to do. Look back there.” Junior swivels around in his chair. There’s a brown cardboard box on the backseat. Its edges are dented and the top is bulging. There’s a green feather on the seat next to it, floating on the white leather. Its edges are greying, the spine translucent. “Open it.” Junior reaches back and opens the box. Inside, more feathers, blue and red and green and yellow, primary colors and spilling out over the edges of the box. Accident snickers and the road goes black and white in the rear window when the light hits the feathers, projecting the colors in kaleidoscope fragments on the roof of the car. They’re birds. Dead ones, wings bent and curled around their bodies, their holiday shawls, their shields. They have eyes, too. At least 20 black beads, strawberry seeds, peering up at him from their feather bed. They’re parrots, he realizes, some little baby ones, some with growths on their heads, some with smiling beaks and silver claws, curled up in this box like it’s a nest and they’re full of food and tired and ready for sleep like Junior on Christmas when the grocery store sells those half-off hams. “Pet store can’t sell ‘em. They get gassed and dumped out back at the end of the month. I was supposed to get rid of them today but I had an idea.” Junior turned back around and looked at his brother. The car went screeching down the road, burning over potholes, veering over double lines. “What idea?” “Remember Ms. Diane?” Ms. Diane. Parrot lady down the street from home and just a couple yards from 196

school, with bird shit on her lawn like snow and green feathers braided into her hair and something like a hundred parrots living inside with her. 2004, Junior’s graduation, and Ms. Diane still had a 9/11 memorial in her front yard. Two little replicas of the towers, on stakes like pink flamingos, sitting on her lawn right next to her outdoor birdcage and “Never Forget” spelled out in big juicy red letters taped to the cage. Junior tried to steal a tower when he was only four because he said they looked like chocolate bars, tall and silver like the parrot’s feet and so so delicious. And then Junior’s graduation when he and his boys got a little high, just a little, they said, enough that the towers really did look like chocolate bars, and they went and sat on the lawn, poking at the towers and passing a blunt back and forth like notes under a desk, blowing ashes at the parrots. Out came Ms. Diane, parrot on her shoulder and screaming, screaming, screaming hands off my ‘scrapers! Hands off my ‘scrapers! and the parrot echoing ‘scrapers! so they sprinted back toward home, ditching the blunt in a storm drain on their way, whooping and laughing and kicking in mailboxes and then bam, bam like the finger in Junior’s ear, the second tower flew smack like a parrot into Junior’s buddy’s head and the kid was out cold on the sidewalk with his blood like mud. Ms. Diane and her parrot now circling, parrot shedding green and screaming ‘scrapers! like it’s September 11th again. “Gonna egg her,” Accident said. “Got no eggs,” Junior said. “Yeah we do. They just have feathers.” Junior smiled and rolled down his window and the car jumped the exit. They step out of the car, soldier boys in a line. Box open on the street, little strawberry seeds peering up at the sky. There’s Ms. Diane’s house, and the bird shit all the same as it used to be, only now the 9/11 memorial is all gone except for the red “Forget.” Accident leaves the car door open so they can hear the music because the car is singing some good song, some song they’ve never heard before, some original by someone or other, and the voice is crying, Over the mountain, my Jane, my Jane, my Jane, my Jane, my Jane, my Jane. Accident squints, he’s gripping a parrot in one hand and he winds up that ear-stabbing arm and then the bird is flying out over the lawn and it almost looks alive but its wings are still clamped shut and then it’s thwack against the asphalt shingles in a firework of green and blue feathers—but there’s no blood or guts, and the thing just falls to the ground. Thwack. Junior likes to throw and he likes to feel the places where the feathers curve over the ribs. Thwack. Thwack. The brothers double fist the birds and in the bursting of green and purple and blue some shingles come flying, and then a light comes on. Ms. Diane. She’s on the lawn like lightning, so fast, and takes a look at the sea of birds in front of her. She screams, a shriek so loud the pileup of dead parrots seems to jump in the vibration and the parrots on her shoulders flap up away from her. Accident squeals and the boys make a break for it. 197

“Antonio! Run!” “Junior!” Out of the corner of Junior’s eye is Ms. Diane, strapping herself into her husband’s old electric wheelchair turned up high and picking up speed behind them, and my Jane, my Jane still pumping in the distance. “Double A! You! Murderer!” she shrieks, and she’s got a cloak of birds behind her and there’s flapping in the brothers’ ears, and Accident grinning like a fool and Junior’s lungs feel electrified. He’s flying through the lawns and crashing up against the mailboxes feeling eighteen all over again with his baby brother a streak by his side. Junior’s bleeding through the street, red Keds leaving skid marks to beat Formula 1, and just as he’s turning into the lawn of his childhood home, he hears it. Hears it before he feels it. A beak to the drum of his right ear. Edie L.


When I look at my mother, I see woman as free energy. Her hands, food-slick from the dishwasher. In a fit of middle age prophylaxis she took my father’s palms, one by one. Today, I hear the sink run over the fight and the dishes, and the water washing his words free of culpability. A magazine-glossed marriage laid haphazardly over single motherhood, pushed to the side by the indictment of her loneliness by the woman in apartment 4D: “What is it like to raise two children on your own?” To respond would be to let the magazine fall from the coffee table in a shatter of pages. I wonder if she counted her steps. I wonder if she thought of her gait as the fringe, or the fabric. I hope the latter. Mia R.


1/2 Her pupils dilate as she inches closer to the edge. She wishes to find herself among the beveled borders, to reach the divide where she can see others through their skin, not in spite of it. She has long fingers, long toes, long hair that turns to a long back, she lays long bricks which in turn catch her dreams in the mortar tinting white to yellow to brown as nightmares grind themselves deeper to her chest. She allows herself to wax thinner, lacquer nails to cover others’ sins, red to brown to black she curls and curls and curls her hair to part herself fake blonde, fake white. Act out the “other half” that half which dominates the imaginations of outsiders, onlookers, they wait to see the flow of her walk, judge the mix by the way she looks at others, the way she inspects herself. Ayla S.


Montauk, The End I’m getting so sick of my hair It’s gotten so long it grazes my butt and pulls Heavy on my shoulders It’s my tool I twist, I scratch, I comb through, I avoid Your gaze I’m scared to let you see through to my collar bones, See the crooked curve my back makes when I bend down to touch my toes See me sobbing into the noise of the shower, fists pressed into the tiles to soften the blow Scared to be alone so I fall asleep to city sounds and the thought of your hand laid flat On my stomach; Rising and falling— body twitch It’s stuff like this that can drive you so crazy Like how for a minute, a day, a month Everything goes silent Out here when you turn off the lights it all just goes black My hair scolds me “Tess why can’t you multiply 8 by 12 in your head Tess you should be kinder to your mother Tess she’s a person too Tess” I want to take scissors and cut it clean off Feel it, finally untethered, in the palm of my hand I know I’ll never make the chop I’m too Anxious? Self-centered? Afraid. I think if I weren’t afraid I’d learn to drive and drive to a big field so I could strip to my underwear and feel the grass on my skin I’d lie until the sky got dark; the blue deepened, finger-painted with stars Or maybe I’d get a fish because I still haven’t recovered from when mine died when I was five And my sister and I stood over its abandoned bowl and cried Our tears mixing with the cloudy water Later that day we made a song for our dead fish and sung it everywhere, Through mouthfuls of cheerios, in the bathtub, as our dad tucked us into bed, Singing in his deep, longing voice 201

a song of what we had lost, our dime-sized fish, Maryanne These days, I feel it all in my stomach I want to reach through the computer screen and pull you through Leave the room on the other side empty, churning in quiet Tess A.-M.


Tony Leung Is Too Short “Wǒ xiànzài kàn Xiāng găng diànyíng gēn Leung Chiu-wai gēn Cheung Man-Y.k” I’ve recently been watching Hong Kong movies with Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung I tell my dad’s mom, Nai Nai, over the landline, New York to Arkansas I practiced the line in Mandarin for fifteen minutes so I could say it to her in her native language I only knew the words for “I’ve recently,” “movies,” & “and” My dad had to translate the rest and I memorized the sounds The movies I referred to were ones I watched with my dad Police Story, a Jackie Chan movie we rewatched after five years Maggie is his protective girlfriend with a faked whiny voice Chungking Express, my dad’s favorite Wong Kar-wai film Tony Leung is a wistful (and dreamy) cop, not over his ex In the Mood for Love, the more famous arty Wong film Maggie and Tony are neighbors with great chemistry Both Maggie & Tony are gorgeous, I tell my dad whereas I tell Nai Nai that I think Tony Leung is handsome She says he is too short, she prefers tall men Thisbe W.


maybe desire is wrong. I once heard Something about Desire Gone Wrong Or maybe someone’s Wrong Desire Or maybe Desire is someone’s Wrongs maybe desire is wrong. In the case of Eve, we do in fact see Desire Gone Wrong, if you see it that way. But This Is Not A Story About Desire. I don’t think you need to hear the details again, But I’ll tell you anyway. In the beginning Things were pretty good for Eve and Adam. But one day (it was probably November, when all the apples were overripe In the Orchards of Eden, and all you could see for miles was a Red Sea of the Greenest fruit) Eve stumbled over a loose apple. She fell, and she scraped her knee. This made Adam’s side hurt. But the pain is not important. This Is Not A Story About Pain. Nor is it a story about their Fall. Nobody Reads Genesis For the Plot Nobody Wonders What Happened To Adam And Eve. 204

Chapter 3 is not about whether they lived Happily Ever After Chapter 3 is not a B Movie - The Good Guys Don’t Win Adam and Eve cannot be compared to Marion Mitchell Morrison. Adam and Eve are not Our John Wayne. So Why do The Good Guys Always Win? What Makes the Good Guys Good? Didn’t John Wayne Kill People? The answer lies in a Quora Forum; “It’s human nature to root for the good guys, because none of us see ourselves as evil.” The rest of the plot of Genesis doesn’t matter. They both eat the apple and get kicked out of the Orchard. We’ve all heard of The Original Sin, But who says Adam and Eve are even the good guys? Bevan H.


At 4:30 in the morning the hazy veil of sleep is still draped over my house, but I peak out from under that foggy cloth and step onto the plains of morning solitude. I stand by myself, my ears picking up only the dream-induced rustling of cotton sheets. In this world of pillow-muffled breathing I sit down alone with the fear, or maybe the hope, that the creaking of floorboards will come to break me out of this quiet place. Fia d. S.



Me, the Orange. Let me just say, I have lived. I have seen. I have wandered aimlessly, through scattered blocks and rooms so deserted my fingertips went numb and my ears roared with the sound of impossible silence until the room became paper thin and my own heart twirled beneath my ribcage. Or perhaps I only imagined that. I have to admit, it is an old memory. I have seen, the color orange plastered on a rough skin, a protective layer, only to be peeled and tossed away, revealing the true treasure of tangy soft flesh, a delicious core; and maybe (I think every now and then) that would be the simplest way to look inside, dig my thumbnail under my hide and pull, though my core would be nowhere as delicious, or as sweet. But then again, I wouldn’t know. Do not misunderstand me, I do not wish to peel my skin. Poets and words have a way of trickery you see. There are moments when an orange is just an orange, and a girl is just a girl, carried away with her own freedom from time to time, or lost in the blank space between words, thinking it was the place where the meaning existed. And perhaps it was that space, so void of touch and feeling, that the immense pressure of complete and utter nothingness overwhelmed my senses, and the compact, empty aura forced me back into the reality of which I had started in. Perhaps I had reached so far into that open space before me, that it was my own hand who grabbed me from behind, and pulled me back down. It is those realizations, the ones I’m sure we have all had, that give new meaning to that truth we have known all of our lives; and though the answer is just as simple as it always was, it is our own ways of getting there, and our conclusions in which we come up with, that make it 208

more significant than before. Yes, there are times when an orange is just an orange, and a girl is just a girl, but it is within those empty spaces, where you have no choice but to see yourself in your true simplest form; the fallen feather of a bird, a lone rock skipped across a pond, a hanging fruit—an orange on a tree, waiting to be plucked, and forced to confront the reality in which it was given. Phoebe W.


You once told me to reach inside of my brain, to look and cherish what I found, because I was there (inside somewhere). I hated what I saw. Maybe your brain is like the others, I don’t know what it should look like, but I think that it’s supposed to be different than mine, not rotting and collapsing on one side. When you reached inside your head and pulled out that flower, I knew that mine was wrong. It was pink and pristine, I think that it was glistening with honey, maybe. If mine had been a flower (which it was not), I don’t think that it would be a camellia. A gardenia maybe, delicate and easily bruised. When we went dancing that one time, and you asked to reach into me, to see what was inside of my skull (breaking the cranium in the process), I recoiled, but only because I didn’t need you seeing my rotting gardenias. You bloomed so beautifully, and you knew when your flowers needed water. And I think that if you reached, and if you saw, the light that I had worked so hard to kindle would go out. I lie at night and listen to the rotting, it is a slow decay, a sadness that takes away my being. When you reached past my eyes, I knew, you didn’t know what was going to happen, that you would ricochet across the room and land perfectly in the laundry I couldn’t bring myself to do. That you would remain there for a moment. And that I would scream, knowing that I had done this, had with my own breath blown out the fire and taken the kindling. That you were gone long before that day, and I had been slowly rotting you away with me. Maddie W.


A Quarantined Love Is he watching my room through his dell HD monitor? Gauging my distance from him in kilometers? Spotlighting my square in our zoom classroom’s screen, Moving his mouse up and down, stroking my cheek Wondering if I know that he finds me cute, He’s attempting to hear me even when I’m on mute He sends jokes to everybody through the zoom chat But they’re aimed at me, not the whole math class He’s picturing me, in the morning, before classes even start, Imagining being with me even if we’d be six feet apart I know he’s there for me, forever devoted His love for me as contagious as COVID Anna G.


Charlise stage directions (based off of Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire) Charlise- [She rushes to the bathroom, holding her skirt pleats above her ankles as she does so. The bathroom is neatly decorated, and except for a yellow seat covered by a gleaming white lid, the bathroom has been kept quite clean. She leans into the mirror to see the curvature of her face more clearly. Her fingers fumble with the mirror door, searching for pink blush. Finding it, she begins to powder her face, adding blush in quick sharp flicks. Mary will be arriving any minute now, she’s sure of it. She opens the cabinet door again and a comb falls out. Her forehead is crinkled with determination, sweat beads are dripping down onto her face, undoing the blush.] Charlise- Damn it! [Her hands fumble with the comb as she brings it to her hair. A couple strands dip in front of her nose and along the side of her cheek. She throws them back over her head. She wipes the sweat off of her forehead with an embroidered white towel and then proceeds to blush her cheeks once more. She looks in the mirror. Her hair is a mess, strands flailing about. Her lips are spotted with the blush from her cheeks, which are once again blotched from sweat. A low guttural noise forms from the base of her throat as she claws at the hair on her scalp. Her white pleated dress rips at the sleeves, exposing her shoulders to the heavily perfumed air. Her eyes slowly lower to her delicate hands and she sees a spot of red. It looks like blood. Her breathing turns shallow as her hands fumble with the faucet.] Charlise- Out! Out! Out! Stop! [Red spots begin to grow on both hands, covering her delicate skin. The water seems to have no effect on them. The spots continue to multiply and cover her hands.] Wash! Wash! Damn it! [She frantically looks through the open cabinet for something to ease the situation. Perfume, shampoo, soap, water are strewn across the floor, blotching out the white tiles. Two bottles have been tossed into the tub and have begun to leak. One cap lays bobbing in the toilet water, another in the puddle of perfume on the floor. Another gutteral noise escapes her throat. Her eyes stare at her reflection in the mirror.] Charlise- Stop it! Stop! [She punches the glass, shattering her reflection. Her lips are now covered in red spots. Her hands move to wipe away the spots, but they keep diverging and expanding. Her hands are now dripping with blood.] Charlise-Stop, goddamn it! [the doorbell rings. In the distance, Charlise can hear a woman’s voice calling for her, saying her name over and over again. She begins to whimper, her lips blubbering, trying desperately to form complete words. She begins to splutter, tears and sweat mixed with blood fly from her mouth.] Pl-pl-pl-plplp, pleassss-pleasse. Lukas K. 212


Wanting a Penguin I’ve always wanted one, Even thought about it quite a bit — Theorized about where to keep it, how to feed it. I expect a penguin would probably enjoy living with me. I would do up my room nicely, Buy a mini-fridge to make it feel at home, Even buy a tank for it to splash in when it’s feeling frisky. We would have nice conversations, My penguin and I — Discussing things like love, and God, and the meaning of life. I’d give it cultural exposure — Play Mozart to it, Paste pictures of famous paintings around its tank, Read it classics like Moby Dick as bedtime stories before we turned in each night. There’d be a few minor complications, of course — The fishmonger near me doesn’t sell live squid or krill, So my penguin would have to get used to eating pre-killed meals — And I suppose there would be a bit of an adjustment period between my dogs and it — But I would make it work. I could blast AC in my room, And I would even bring it to the zoo now and then to let it socialize. On weekends, I would take it on walks along the river,


Explaining things like why the sky is blue, And how the river leads into the ocean, And which came first, the chicken or the egg. I’d take it for peppermint hot chocolate, Hold its slippery flipper as we crossed the street, Carry it the rest of the way home on my back when its little legs got too tired of waddling. At nights, we would bundle up in my room and have philosophical discussions together, It floating languidly on its back, Me sitting reC. d on my armchair, My room so cold icicles would be forming on my windowsill, My breath coming out in short misty bursts. I’d reach out my hand towards the frost-encrusted water surface, And it would reach out its silky flipper back towards me — And there we would meet in the middle, The best of friends, My penguin and I. Joline F.


Mr. Americana The growl of an almost red Jeep Cherokee cuts through the thick darkness, beckoning towards the bodies stumbling down Lincoln High’s stone steps. The gritty whine of Darius Rucker leaks from the forgotten radio, his lyrics a mere taste of the night to come. The boys move closer and the tart stench of Bud Light coats the car doors. They wear billowing gowns and caps that haven’t been straight since they left their mothers’ arms that morning. One boy’s gown has started to come apart, revealing ripped jeans and a sliver of a sickly pale thigh; he hides the tear with a drunken limp and breathy laughter. Six of them pile into the back while one slides into the driver’s seat. They roll down the windows, open the skylight, and take a deep breath in as if they were trying to huff the vastness of a Texas summer night. Their eyes light up, enthralled by tonight’s mistress: possibility. “Where we goin’ boys?” “To freedom!” one shouts, his slurred words lingering above the car briefly, before they are swept away into the field forever. They all begin to shout in agreement, and their voices coalesce into a choir of adolescence. The sound is not beautiful, but it’s theirs, and they cling to it dearly. “To the river, Stinks!” The car leaps to life and the boys howl once more, drowning out the sound of the last graduation balloons popping in the gymnasium behind them. The radio changes to Florida Georgia Line and their pupils leap with the pounding bass. “YOU’RE HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, I’M HIIIIIIIGH ON LOVIN’ YOUUUU” The words come from somewhere deep inside them. The sound reminds them of apple pie, their father’s ribs, and checkered picnic blankets. The driver shudders and thrusts down on the accelerator, zooming by Mrs. Hawkins’s daycare, Mr. Tucker’s auto shop, and Miller and Son’s grocery. They crank the volume even higher and lose themselves in the syrupy twang. It could be the mountain of bud light bottles on the floor; it could be the sweet Texas wind; it could’ve been the fact that the checkered blanket had been seeming more and more white lately; whatever the cause, the voices merge in the air, dancing in the wind. The boys forget their bodies in favor of the dreams of trucks and women that live perpetually in the strings of the electric guitar. The car lurches to a halt in a ditch blanketed with grass. The ditch marks the beginning of the river. The river is hugged by two muddy fields that spill off the edge of the horizon. The boys hop out and scale the car’s hood, shoving each other down for a chance 216

to be at the top. “The spot’s mine, weak boy!” and other taunts ring out across the weeds. The driver makes it to the top and grunts in triumph. He stretches out his legs and sighs, staring into the stars. His stomach flutters, and suddenly he remembers being a child at the top of a swing, preparing to jump. He reaches out a hand, timidly, hoping to grab a star. Quickly, he realizes that he is more content to observe. The other boys are tearing through the grass, daring each other to jump in the river. They fling off their gowns and don’t stop until they are completely nude. They aren’t going to swim; no, they just want to be closer to the night. They want to feel the air whisper between their toes; they want to feel it pound on their chests as they slice through the breeze. “I could do this forever.” One boy is missing. The boy with the ripped jeans sits with his back propped on an aging tree, his fingers toying with the hole in his jeans. The branches sag over him, hiding the stars with their exhaustion. He feels something cool run across his fingertips and looks down to find a crimson pool on his upper thigh. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the remains of a deceased Bud Light, fractured into dozens of unrecognizable pieces. He carefully arranges the shards in his palm, paralyzed by the beauty and the sadness of glass glowing in the moonlight. A chill creeps its way across his shoulders. He stares into the horizon, straining to see past the edge of the field, but there is nothing beyond the cold silhouettes and echoing profanity of his friends. He weeps silently into his crooked cap, mourning the unseen. “And we gonna sing it too Yeah we’re proud to be young We stick to our guns We love who we love and we wanna have fun Yeah we cuss on them Mondays And pray on them Sundays Pass it around and we dream about one day…” Evan G.



For 2.75 This is a Flatbush Ave. bound 2 train‌ red, green &blue veins run through the pulse of the New York City Body with the heavy musk of sewage water and a man who made a corner near the subway car exit his home for days. clogged and compact with lost bodies finding home in wherever this massed vessel can carry them. deep in the belly of the concrete under the polluted rivers the A, C, 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, R was our passage into The complex anatomy that is our city The next stop is Franklin Ave. Stand clear of the guns aimed at your chest [beat] our immune system is infected with viruses coated in badges &blue shattering the bones of the New York City Body organs diseases with incurable poverty weighted with pockets full of quarters plentiful enough to get a regular cheese slice near Fulton but not enough to get home to Mama before seven [beat]


How Dare You. pin my body to the cold floor as you grasp my clothes grope my body suffocate crowd congest me. Take My Breath — you want my being destroyed. if it can’t be for your profit for your consumption for my 2.75. then you beat me and take me from home as if my train stop at the hood I’ve known since I came out the womb is your slave coast. my empty wallet and my Mama’s unpaid bills is your excuse that my body isn’t worthy of life. How Dare You. The next stop is Jay St. MetroTech Stand clear of the guns aimed at your chest [beat] we Black kids are something like a reincarnated Jamal Shabazz photograph from 1984 with a speaker in our bookbags buried beneath our textbooks and binders blasting our bro’s SoundCloud songs. he swears his beats are valid. coats zipped open so you can see how we matched the color of our hoodie to our Air Jordan 1s. walking the littered concrete flawlessly so our sneakers don’t crease. loud, youthful, talking shit


the New York City Body is ours. future as bright as the lights on the skyline and dreams as big as the skyscrapers that kiss the stars only kids finding home we only ever wanna be home. [beat] take me home. take me home. take me home. I don’t have 2.75 I’m sorry. I only wanted to go home. take me home. [beat] This is a Bronx bound 5 train… [beat] Stand clear of your Black joy being erased To justify the assaulting of your bodies. [beat] If you see something, stay silent. This has been a message from the New York City Police Department And thank you for riding with the MTA [beat] take me home. Abadai Z.


Estate’s elegy To brush my feet against the mat and greet a friendly dog Is like a bracing to see you in that crust-filled chair, so red and velvety Perhaps two or three of those crumbs were left by you; your newscap, your CDs. If I snuff my face into the crevices and search, I don’t smell them The ashy, wooden odor like a pipe too-full Or, walking up the stairs in a barn attic, No longer managed but more just kept With three sofas but not a single in use I parade around, sift through the books and break a picture frame Each time I arrive I expect something novel, Other than dust and houseflies that multiply with summer’s end Might I search in the right place, I find your signature Offering me a sudden glance, asking me to work and to move Like a hand lighting a match and then a candle, always two One that can barely hold its soup without spilling And the green or sometimes orange liquid will dribble onto a napkin Neatly folded and tucked into the chest. Simon L.


teeth by the time I saw the house she was already a corpse — a body in the late stages of decomposition, flesh stripped by so many winter winds and august thunderstorms wielding grains of sand like jaws full of teeth and blood and salt. she wears her lead paint like remnants of skin — dry and leathery and peeling. birds and rats nest in her roof like maggots; her timber bones crawl with termite bacteria, riddled with dendritic osteoporosis and faded pigment veins. tourists flock to her like slow-moving scavengers — too late to the kill for choice meat but they devour nonetheless — brain spleen eyes glass screws window paste. someday soon she will be nothing but a skeleton picked clean by the hungry mouths of time. Eliza B.


Moment by Moment 2010: Your brothers go to college. You call their mom your stepmother even though you have no relation. 2012: Move to Brazil. Your new school has a uniform, you think that makes you special. Your parents are no longer living together. Dad calls, asks how you’re doing. You see him in October, go to Disney World together. Hurricane Sandy hits, your flight is moved up a few days. You’re excited because this means more time in Florida. Abercrombie and Fitch is destroyed downtown, you were looking forward to buying a new shirt. 2014: Boston is blooming in May, both of your brothers made it through college. You are proud to hear their names. It is your grandmother’s last time travelling. You go to therapy, she asks you to draw things about your friends. You don’t like drawing so you give her stick figures, she thinks this has something to do with why you are getting bullied. In the miserable June weather you begin yet another new school. Befriend another new student, the teacher thinks she is your little sister on the first day. Meet your best friend, she has glasses and is always carrying a book—you ask her about it. You like the same things. Going to her house for the first time you discover she has a twin, why did she never mention that to you? 2015: Make a petition to move back home. They say no. You try to go to a party without telling your mother, but somebody tells their mom who calls your friend’s dad and you get picked up. Your mom is mad, you get sushi. Your first real party is weird, you have your first kiss. Your mom let you go. On your way out two girls press all the buttons on the elevator, you’re late. They ask you what you think of the boy you kissed, apparently he had kissed one of them too. 2016: Go to the Olympics. You drive 9 hours to see beach volleyball and water polo. Your friend has the only phone that can fit the chord to play music, but she only has 5 songs. The apartment you stay in has over ten people, but only two bedrooms. You sleep in between two mattresses, they split during the night and you are on the floor, but you don’t notice until the morning. The petition finally worked, but did you want that anymore? Now your mom is the one in a different country, you are reunited with your dog. The boy you like doesn’t like you back. 2017: You meet a girl. It didn’t work out. Baby Driver comes out, you go to see it 3 times in one week. Your best friend comes to visit, you go to the opera. The lady next to you shushes you even though you are not talking. Later she moves the head of a lady resting on her boyfriend’s shoulder. You see her in a different seat after intermission, she had been in someone else’s. 2019: Your grandmother dies. You accompany your family to the memorial, people 224

ask what your job is. You say you are currently unemployed. Your brother gets a job offer, he puts down your address for the gift baskets. You’re obsessed with having the right clothes, the right look, you want people to like you. Another grandmother passes away, her memorial is hot and your Italian cousins come. They hug you tightly and say their condolences, you don’t really know them. You turn 16 and your parents don’t ask you where you are, so you don’t tell them. Sometimes you wish they would ask. Nina D.


Synesthesia And now a word in a phrase Just a sentence (We have created the original sound, Percussive, fibrous.) My reveries are diluted and erased. A mistake can be mended; A pool of water and a clean stroke, And color is a wisp behind her ear. Light in the crosswalk shimmers in a pool. Remember this, I try. And yet a small mistake can burden every word, As a sweep of fingers on my sweater hem Becomes the rain. And if memories can’t be dissected Should I forget a couple years Of incoherent smiles? Oonagh M.


¨Of The Inconstancy of Our Actions ̈ blackberry jam only glides on smoothly when the biscuit is warm. clumps latch to the roof of the mouth — predating the heimlich maneuver. sweet tea aches in my gums, I faint in the sun. flushed cheeks and dewey hairlines are endearing on little boys who play in the afternoon heat. strange, then, that I should feel so foolish. an infant sobbing, making bubbles of saliva on your neck is a force of nature. strange, then, that no one holds me as I shake in fetal position. I only drink coffee that is thick and sweet. juvenile, I suppose. The Human Condition Mandates A Desire To Be Understood; On A Personal And Institutional Level. Strange, Then, That Empathy Isn’t Always Hard-Wired Into The Human Consciousness. (This Is Commonly Exemplified In Secondary School, Heartbreak, And Foreign Affairs) Capitalist Banana Trees Have Grown Their Roots In The Tender Waistline Of Latin America. (Thank You, Pablo Neruda) Strange, Then, That They Should Be Thinly Sliced Into Your Morning Cornflakes. The Diaphragm Shakes In Different Ways When You Laugh And When You Cry. Strange, Then, That We Should Laugh And Cry For The Same Thing. Claire S.


Epicanthal Folds When sculpting a face I’m told to press with my thumbs to create the eye sockets As if I’m determined to painfully blind this face’s nonexistent eyes I wonder to myself why I would press in where the eye will be when my own eyes don’t recede into their sockets at all They instead protrude the same distance as my brow bone I wonder how I will build out eyelids from these deep sockets And I wonder if instead of pressing in the sockets first, I could scrape away from a flat plane to leave the eyelids and the eyeballs Maybe I’m not sculpting my own eyes Or maybe I’ll disguise this head’s intentions with thick epicanthal folds Thisbe W.


Destiny’s Generators As global tensions rose, they sought to unite us. Yet in such a colliding world, they struggled to do so. Until the day, the blessed day, in which it was proposed: The filters. What is the name of your future wife? Which Disney character are you? Which baby animal are you? What will be the date of your marriage? Which Democratic candidate are you? Questions so important that no one had gathered the courage to ask them before. Factors of personal identity so vital that learning them could change one’s future. Once you know you are Ruby Grapefruit White Claw, you can’t live as if you are a Natural Lime. Once you know your true love is a Libra, you can’t live as if they are a Virgo. The significance of it all was lost on no one. Even the weakest, cheapest souls were steadied by such realizations. Those whose accounts had long been abandoned returned to learn their fates. Mothers, brothers, uncles, dogs, all replenished by the knowledge That the initial of their secret admirer Was M. Julia F.


Sandstorm Is there a light meter for life? I wear rooms like dresses. I want to press the mute button, the sleeves vibrate too much and leave my arms sand-weak. When I was the oldest I thought I ever could be, the meter went blank. Is it too much to ask that I want to be awake again? These days I speak in bubbles of laughing gas. A costume is a barrier, air but not hand-tight. Show me a mother whose eyes aren’t sand-soaked herself, a mother who doesn’t deep down, secretly wish to give birth to a boy— if only for the reason that she doesn’t want her daughter, like her, to be dependent on laughing gas and grains of sand. It doesn’t make me special to have nail beds that grow heavy stones. Mia R.


buffer/buffer =doxorubicin the cesspit spool of my mid brain migraine i’m blocking it out and missing sound dearly there’s august tar in my nail beds sand bagged in a nitrile glove on skates the disconnects of grid won’t matter too much drugged tubules and scratches i can’t align bars that won’t bend to my curve =italian ruby poison cardiotoxicity forte greene has become my broken glass stomping ground of choice of course i would take satisfaction from pain, of course edit my life to seem healthy it’s creating cDNA from what may or may not be RNA i make mistakes, i vacuum the wrong liquids recreating an experiment feels worse than the stress of doing it for the first time so i become flawless Una R.