Literary Arts Magazine Spring 2020 Issue
This publication was created amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Though most of our work was done remotely, it was important to us that we continued on with the creation of this issue to honor the work and talents of those in the Northeastern community. We hope you enjoy it.
Staff Niah Tobarri Editor-in-Chief Laura Shrago Creative Director Jade Fiorilla Finance Manager Gwen Cusing Secretary Remenna Xu Advertising Manager Mitch Gamburg Web Developer Gabby Bruck Junior Creative Director Kristi Bui Junior Web Developer
Members General Ryan Doolittle Sabrina Ruiz Lily Weber Brian Yang Design Committee Sophia Petrucci Elizabeth Doyle Ella Filardi Gabriela Lehmann Rodriguez Kathryn Norris Natasha Khoo Melania St. Cyr
Cover art adapted from “Blue” by Euvin Lee. © Copyright Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine and respective authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine and/or respective authors. Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine reserves the right to edit submissions for layout, grammar, spelling, and punctuation unless otherwise indicated by the author. Any references to people living or dead are purely coincidental except in the case of public figures. The views and opinions represented in this media do not necessarily reflect those of Northeastern University or the staff of Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine.
Party for 1 Graduation
Allison Zheng Abigail Hodge
A Letter to Adirondack Skies Sedona Mist
Carolyn Kiely Lauren Kourafas
girl on sign Youth Speaks
Harumi Jang Laney Nguyen
Charles/MGH a perfect goodbye
Victoria Romulo Brigitte Gong
14 faces My Therapist Asks Me To Write About The First Time I Noticed My Body
16 ode, passion Pumice
Ella Filardi Kristi Bui
18 Sunsetting Thanksgiving
Remenna Xu Laura Shrago
Alexandra Fryman Patrick J. McQuillan
Lantern Restored Drunk in Oxford
24 Ambiance Blue
Elke Thoms Euvin Lee
The Portuguese Neurologist Visits Me In My Sleep
Once More to See You Burial at Sea
Brigitte Gong Carla Belloch-Arango
WAITING PIECE Spiritual Tradition
Sophia P. Melania St. Cyr
Clean Cut Precious
Euvin Lee Niah Tobarri
34 Returning Search Engine Optimization
Allison Zheng Elke Thoms
Kathryn Norris Sophia P.
boys A Blessing
38 Exposed Dementia
Alexandra Fryman Liz Wheeler
a worn in romance Solace
Melania St. Cyr Denise Lewis
Sam Penney 3
Party for 1 // Allison Zheng 4
Graduation // Abigail Hodge I was not born with wings So I was shown how to build Feathers and wax and balsa wood pressed into my hands By teachers eager to give me the tools to fly Each feather a formula, a date, a bit of Shakespeare Flighty and fanciful and ready to be caught and carried by the wind Some feathers, of course, were self-referential Icarus and Bellerophon Men who wanted to carry themselves higher than their fragile wings could stand I glued their stories to my wings with the same wax that doomed Icarus And learned that the proud get no second chances A line was drawn in the sky Fly this high, little songbird. But no higher I was pushed from the nest with the clanging of the last bell On the last day of a sticky, sunny June With full-feathered wings strapped to my back I ran to the ocean And gazed out over the waves Their troughs like graves, ready to inter my hubris I grasped a bit of down in my fingers Remembering the day that I learned That the sun is so very far from us Millions and millions of miles And what could something so far away Do to me here?
A Letter to Adirondack Skies // Carolyn Kiely I spend more time than I’m willing to admit Gazing upon your star stricken face. As I gaze into the abyss that I believed I recognized, I realize that there is nothing else in this world That I could know less than you. Excuse me as I count your every star while I track planes’ flashing lights And wonder if they will ever sparkle at people The way that your eyes do. You wink at bulk standard Romantics Who search for hope in your eyes. They wish on light speed eyelashes floating by For your fire to consume them and The promises they wouldn’t keep. I lay beneath you, Swaddle myself in you As children do with long-loved blankets, As lovers do with stolen sweaters , As mourners do with everything that still smells unforgotten. Each breath that fills my lungs a reminder Of the anchoring weight of belonging. I have never been this heavy. You gift me acrobats and wishes and soft huffs of laughter, Steal from me every exhale and giggle, Pull me to you like lovers floating along Dancing on chilling air and breathy winds. I miss you. For every day that the lights drag my face from your gaze And wayward clouds pass over me, rendering me helpless, Your eyes are a thousand mile stare. As I twirl beneath you, trailing ink, You are a page that I can not be taken from. We will only break eye contact As we blink in and out of life.
Sedona Mist // Lauren Kourafas
girl on sign // Harumi Jang
Youth Speaks // Laney Nguyen Lemonade sky soaking parchments of cloud, Where we basked under the glorious Escape, the beautiful Fantastical, and the Ethereal NaĂŻve. Hands buried deep into soft, warm sand, We scratched, dug, sculpted for Nostalgia To bring back fragments Of our childhood.
Colorado Blood // Kat I. Mama was born before there was much of anything, in a city with a stretch of road that marked downtown with the untamed still clawing for the humans developed. Mama left when she was seventeen, headed off for the far reaches of the country, escaped the broken down remnants of family and self. Sister never left. Except for one year â&#x20AC;&#x201D; disappeared into a frozen wasteland, soon became a thin icicle grown sideways. And only when she returned to Colorado did she begin to melt, thaw, pool into something once more recognizable, blooming again with the columbines that sit patiently. Daddy came later, to the mountains I return to. Young, drawn by landscape of misgivings. His eyes clear in this air, return to the sharp blue of the sky. His memories lay stuffed under the windowseat I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like to sit on. Daddy met Mama in the places I now stand, the floor I walk across, the trails that stretch out before me.
I feel pieces of me reclaimed, pieces I can’t reach or hold on to. They come back to me sleepily, carefully, in the lilacs blooming, the fluttering of Aspen green, the cotton that floats down to me, landing in my eyelashes like snow. My blood flows with the west, generations pushing against the horizons, roots now growing into the cracking mud. My grandmother’s irises bloom in a square plot of earth surrounded by cement, each year a different shade of purple — from pale violent to flushes of eggplant. Veins of her blossoming up from the garden I walk through. My uncle grows her each spring and summer. Mama stands at the corner, the purple so brilliant it’s hard to look at. II. When I leave the irises and horizons, I always glance back at the physical manifestation of my own flesh and blood. Purple running through my veins and out into the meadows, cracks, splits in trunks, softest of clouds, and places I have to crane my neck to glimpse.
Charles/MGH // Victoria Romulo 12
a perfect goodbye // Brigitte Gong in my perfect goodbye, everything is neat and tidy, the way it should be. the sweater I threw onto the ground after a day of wear folds itself up into my dresser again. the books I piled on my windowsill organize themselves alphabetically, or maybe by color, depending on how they feel and what the weather is like. the goodbye comes at the right time, too– there is no dilly-dallying, no feet-dragging, and certainly no counting of chickens before they’re hatched. it comes when both parties are ready for something new, or perhaps something more familiar. there is no remorse in becoming strangers again, no regret in letting time do its thing, which is - make archaeologists of us all. in my mind, the perfect goodbye leaves just the right amount unsaid. Schrodinger’s Cat is both alive and dead, and maybe we’ll never find out what happens to him. and isn’t that preferable? isn’t it better to stop the story before its inevitable messy end, to preserve hope as it is – pure, clean, honest, infinite. but – who are we kidding? we all know better, and better is complicated, raw; a tender heart violent with emotion, overflowing with…something else. call it a soul, or a spirit, or star dust – it is everything but perfect. No goodbye is forecasted accurately. No will or science can change the fickle winds, the indecisive current.
My Therapist Asks Me To Write About The First Time I Noticed My Body // Sloan Drechsel Before: pink light in her room, the pink of late afternoon, pink curtains just like mine. Her blonde hair reflected in the mirror, my blonde hair reflected in her eyes. Beating fast, beating ravenously, my heart which is next to her heart, which is next to her arm, which is next to my arm. Two Girl Scouts in two girl bodies, sitting facing each other on her bed. But before the before: chatting excitedly in the back of the giant lumbering bus, dropped at the front of her neighborhood, walking home with her in the green light that peaks through the dense Southern foliage. An invisible kind of puppy love. And then: girl lips on girl lips, girl tenderness relaxes into girl tenderness. The doorknob twists and girl recoils from girl. And then: a white shame, white-hot, settling into me. A white reminder that pink is not supposed to catch my eye. Then: a white envy, for the clumsy bodies of the boys who chased her around the playground. Then: a white hatred, for the pink body that housed me. After all these years, I sometimes still feel that whiteness. It permeates everything, like an oncoming blizzard. Then: I remember that I did not feel wrong until I was seen. Now: I take the vast emptiness of the white, and I fill it with pink.
faces // Lauren Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Sullivan
ode, passion. // Ella Filardi lint rollers, oh! how I lust after you; the smooth roller against my skin; pick me apart! pick me apart! take all my fluff, dust, depression and dirt, never am I cleaner than when your white skin has rubbed me up and down and up, rolling along like those paper girls my mom used to run with, throwing papers on porches: white-gray rolls and red rubber bands. at a distance, a newspaper is just as good as any lint roller, but I prefer to stand up close to feel your body work; your stick and slip, your sweet caress, your handle snuggled in my palm. my legs are limbs for you to traverse, find every place to be found! roll between my fingers and over my nose, my eyebrows, my lips, my hips... oh, I lose control! I run freely through the streets, I cannot slow down, I show my body, I let it free, let the shame settle on me, let the dust settle on me, I am a spectacular spectacle in the streets! but oh, how dirty have I become? how thin, how gray is my shame? I am covered with it. I am naked and ugly with it. now I can go home and clean up.
Pumice // Kristi Bui
Sunsetting // Remenna Xu Young when we met my hand on your arm, tracing fire “will it hurt?” “probably” “is it worth it?” “yes” Our first split was deafening the world moved slowly then all of a sudden, I was choosing you Three feet apart, two bodies, one room two whispers in the dark minds together, lingering questions and a clock ticking down. “is it worth it even if you leave?” “yes” Older now, separate bodies The day you left was blistering we sat on the steps of this condemned brownstone, hands clasped, tight eyes on darkening day not looking at each other no more questions just knowing
Thanksgiving // Laura Shrago
Duplicity // Lauren Kourafas
22 Lantern Restored // Alexandra Fryman
Drunk in Oxford // Patrick J. McQuillan Am I as old as I am? Wayfaring on asphalt streets with a belly full of whisky, Blindly punching at the blind, With loose wrists and staggering steps, I ramble through the evening roads. The neon storefronts and golden streetlights Scream their luminosities into my skull. And I’m afraid of where I’m going And I’m not sure what I’m saying And the world has become an ether Whose haze is perplexingly permeant As I stumble through it drunk and blind, Asking meaningless questions in soft, incoherent mumbles out loud; In desperate, wild shouts in my brain. I’m looking at the world through a pane of old glass, Stained and scratched and raw, And itching my heels And bleeding tears from my eyes And wondering in this ocean of hours what could I have been? When did the sounds I’m hearing become random? Why have the days been longer than the nights? The stars are out The moon is rising I mumble strange words to the air And continue along the street And the neon storefronts and golden streetlights And the ether Into that void Until I can sleep long enough for the whiskey to wince away from my head. Until I can meet myself again in the morning.
Ambiance // Elke Thoms Our song comes on around 4 o’clock, name-checks Los Angeles, but I am back in the Northeast, wrapped in the chill in the air and the warmth of my sweater, one hand on an unseasonal iced coffee. From the first chord, my ears perk, then my heart sputters, aching I collapse on my table, but looking around— there is everyone— finishing essays, checking emails, enjoying first dates, while I sit eyeing the front door because I’m not sure I can survive the three and a half minutes. My nails are in the wood as the chorus hits, I remember how we kissed, you called it “cinematic.” Now, books splayed out, I just hear credits on an infinite loop.
Blue // Euvin Lee
The Portuguese Neurologist Visits Me In My Sleep // Sloan Drechsel The scrawny towns of the South are flanked on each side by even scrawnier driveways lined up on the main drag. When I get out beyond those, though, I understand the human impulse to create something out of nothing. I see these defenseless grasslands, this gaping countryside, and I think, shouldn’t there be something to prowl this? (A live scarecrow, or at the very least some four-legged beast). Should there not be a reason for some tools to go missing from a shed every so often, or for the night terrors of little children nearby every few years? The signs from decrepit churches and shops fallen into disrepair seem to raise their eyebrows at me: saying, is it enough to be here or must we also be policed? I have a few conspiracies about my own existence. I think that it rains every other Tuesday in this state like clockwork. I think when I was small my mother worried aloud too much. I think if any urban legend is real it’s gotta be Mothman. I think that maybe Coca-Cola is poisoning us slowly, but like, on purpose. (Still nailing down the details of this one). I think the lead singer of one of my favorite bands is totally a serial killer. I think that sometimes, doctors visit me in my sleep and lobotomize me. The first lobotomy performed in the United States took place in 1936. The idea, introduced by a Portuguese neurologist named António Eras Moniz, was that chronically sad or otherwise problematic people had “closed” or “fixed” circuits in their brains, and the solution to help these sufferers was to sever these connections. The voice of the neurologist is pleasant. I guess this would mean that I profess to believe in ghosts, but does the presence of the inventor ever leave his invention? A string master retains his occupation even if, out from underneath him, the puppet begins to walk of its own accord. It is softer than most men’s voices I am used to hearing. He tells me about the third time the bastard policemen arrested him, back when he was serving as the Dean of the Medical School at the University of Lisbon. He had stopped police from settling a student protest. His first two arrests saw him jailed for protesting. Sometimes I feel like weeping with him. I looked on his Wikipedia page once and found out that the secondary school he attended in the early 1920s had burned to the ground in a forest fire just over two years ago. I have no comprehension of what it is like to exist long after the relics of your life decay. He talks a lot about the beauty of his homeland. I look up photos of his parish on Google Images. I agree. (It is beautiful. It looks like a wonderful small Portuguese town that I would like to move to with a lover and do nothing but read books all day).
The neurologist talks to me while his team saws open my head. This is not the technique that was used in the real world, but it is what the ghosts use. More Halloween potential, I guess. The procedure is painless. I know that they saw off just the top so that a circular mass of skin and its connected hair hits the ground. But by that point I am always back asleep. I barely remember it in the morning. By that hour I am always more preoccupied by the lack. (Of feeling, of familiarity). Why do the tears take so long to come? Why do my arms seem longer, or are my hands just farther from my eyes or are my eyes just farther back into my skull? And suddenly they are closer again and I doubt that I even knew what I was talking about. What about my ears? Why do they only hear such fowl things? I can see the mouths of others moving, saying even compliments and celebratory news, and I think: what on earth are they saying? Any food I suggest to my stomach sounds like it will all taste white. (So I do not eat, until I am hungry enough to be tempted by sugar). (Sugar). The most unbearable thing about this procedure is how the body feels afterward. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve communicated this issue to the neurologist. It mopes, it is heavy, it is sleepy constantly. Its mouth cannot help itself- either it will go on confessing its lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s theses or its eulogy draft, or it will stay so still that one wonders if my mouth is just, like a sticker, beginning to lose its ability to hold itself to my face. I tell the neurologist that I think the only positive about this is the neck. The neck feels better. It is easier to look around and squint. I tell the neurologist that I would not like to have this done again, that it hurts me. I tell the neurologist that I would perhaps give anything for a drug instead, a small pill to swallow neatly. I tell the neurologist that I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t appreciate his team barging in periodically, snipping at my brain while I dream. The neurologist tells me that, unfortunately, treatment will continue until I show an improvement in symptoms. The amount they come to see me depends on the month. Sometimes they do not come at all. Sometimes they come so frequently that I am reduced to wondering if I have not lied to you, my reader. Earlier I stated that I have no comprehension of what it is like to exist long after the relics of your life decay. I am at times forced to wonder if this is not correct, if the neurologist and I are not at times more similar than I would like.
28 Once More to See You // Brigitte Gong
Burial at Sea // Carla Belloch-Arango I choke on salt water as it rakes its claws down my throat, this is one knife I can swallow that will bring me closer to home. Eyes on the sky imply you have learned how to float but I’m treading water amongst clouds of white foam. Ripples, turn to currents, turn to riptides, turn to waves; I’m seasick, yet I know, I’ll find no peace on the shore. So I’ll descend to the depths of these watery graves to at last sleep with skeletons on the soft ocean floor. But there are a thousand ways to drown without running out of breath, a hundred different reasons a heart keeps beating after death: Lungs lined with sea salt where pressure is building, sand in cracked bones where marrow is missing. Yet ribs carved from shipwrecks refuse to sink twice, and coral-sharp teeth bite down like a vise. I bring the reef to my skin for the kill, and watch blood bubble up like an oil spill. Bury me at sea; that’s where I belong. Don’t ever look for me; I found my siren song.
WAITING PIECE // Sophia P. in the style of yoko ono WAITING PIECE I Buy ice cream. Wait for it to melt before you eat it. Mix paint. Wait for it to dry before you use it. Boil water. Wait for it to evaporate before you drink it. Call someone. Wait for them to hang up before you speak. WAITING PIECE II Imagine you are a cloud, high above, free from responsibility. Imagine you are a cat, sunbeam lazy adventurer. Imagine instead that when you call, you talk to that someone and you say the right things. Wait until these imaginations fade. Go about your day. WAITING PIECE III Wait for the lunch break. Wait for bedtime. Wait for the weekend. Wait for vacation. Wait until you can’t wait anymore. Until you can’t keep the holding pattern. Until your muscles atrophy. Until your body breaks down. Until you’ve forgotten what you’re waiting for. Then, buy ice cream.
Spiritual Tradition // Melania St. Cyr 31
Clean Cut // Euvin Lee
Precious // Niah Tobarri (time is precious. though it doesn’t exist, you feel it pass through your fingers like sand.) the body is an ephemeral hourglass, a glass chamber, each heartbeat delivering a deafening tick, tick, tick, inching towards that fatal blow— the Big Bang, if you will. you won’t. you ask scientists when exactly the universe was formed and they’ll give you this arbitrary figure that doesn’t matter. like how you’re watching what you eat to maintain your figure even though you know it won’t matter in 10 years. you wonder if you’ll matter to her then. or in 5 years. or in 6 months. or now. now, as in currently, as in presently as in “do you love me or are you wasting my time?” she’ll give you an arbitrary answer that probably won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. she’ll tell you in due time and it will be precious.
Returning // Allison Zheng
Search Engine Optimization // Elke Thoms The night I met you, I went home and tore up the Earth for photographsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; yearning to unlock, discover. Tonight, I look again and observe: what was once just your outline is now my home.
36 boys // Kathryn Norris
A Blessing // Sophia P. fuck fuck fuck fuck
the earth and all its creatures. the brackish sea, salt and fresh together. the fields, the fallow and the fertile. every dog and dragonfly in equal measure.
well, okay, they’re good fields. they’re good oceans. the animals have come a long way i tried my hardest on the little parts, can you see the attention I paid? but i didn’t ask for all this duty. you’re just some pottery I had the time to try and yeah, I was getting lonely but holy shit. fuck me for letting you multiply. creation was just a pastime that got out of hand so maybe it’s time to wipe the tape. I’ve cracked enough clay in the kiln not to like the sound it makes. would you mind if i stepped out for a second? just to clear my head? you wouldn’t mind if i slept on it? i need the time for a cigarette. a drawn-out boozy brunch for one. I need to hit reset, I need to rest my eyes. I’m taking my hands off the wheel, now. simply go on with your lives.
Exposed // Alexandra Fryman
Dementia // Liz Wheeler A Garden of gracious flowers full of shades Of turquoise, and Petals that peel outward like great hands Of a clock Cylindrical stems with the fortitude of Tree trunks And the sweet cadence of lonely birdsong This is nature. A of gracious full of Of blue, and that peel out like great Of a Circle with the fortitude of And the sweet of lonely This is. full blue peel great circle fortitude sweet lonely Blue Great Circle fort Sweet lonely. Blue Great Lonely Blue , Lonely.
a worn in romance // Melania St. Cyr this soul has always belonged by the seaside in crocheted cottages of preppy pilgrims varicose vineyard vacations this heart has always belonged to suburban shingled sorrows cold feet frosts following feather down paths this body has always belonged on cobblestone crosswalks past crisp fall foliage Tuesday trolleys through backstreets of Boston I have always belonged in Massachusetts or I have brought myself to believe in the romantic rendition of it all this brain has believed it always belongs in Massachusetts and there it will always return.
Solace // Denise Lewis
Yellow Branch // Sam Penney
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