Spectrum Magazine Fall 2021 Issue

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fall 2021

Elzie Doyle Creative Director Kathryn Norris Social Media Manager Mia Merchant Finance Manager



Natasha Khoo President

Naomi Desai Junior Designer


art committee

Lily Weber Secretary

Finn Seifert Haeun Park Sophia Wang Izze Kilgariff Renee Abbott Claire Relly Allison Choi Jesica Bak Zoe Persaud Kate Rivelli Elizabeth Cui Ana Davis Sree Vangala

Naomi Desai Haeun Park Allison Choi Jesica Bak

Cover art adapted from “Paneless” by Charles Madden 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.

table of contents


A Letter from E-board // Natasha Khoo, Elzie Doyle, Mia Merchant, Kathryn Norris, Lily Weber, Naomi Desai


Orange 1 // Grady Kirsch Spider on the Ceiling //Kristina DaPonte


I’m So Dehydrated // Vivian Gao Swamp // Hanna Meng


Neskowin // Kathryn Norris Bildungsroman // Bryana Dawkins


Lucid // Elzie Doyle Sunshine on a Rainy Day // Yanni Pappas


Untitled // Kai Doran My Power // Katrina Makayan


Untouched // Charles Madden I Thought You Would Like to Know // Mia Merchant


Letter from the Kitchen // Sophie Leggett Paneless // Charles Madden


Love You Forever (Mom) // Zach Simon Gaia // Natasha Khoo


To: You (Many Years Later) // Katrina Makayan Public Outlet // Charles Madden


We Grow // Sabrina Ruiz Mooncake // Elizabeth Cui


A Warm Charm // Sree Vangala Connect // Yanni Pappas


Deep Sea Diving // Elzie Doyle


Strings // Abe Berman Fuck Off We’re Just Vibing // Sabrina Ruiz


Crime and Punishment // Gabriela Lehmann Rodriguez


a letter from e-board Dear reader, With the changing seasons, the departure from light to dark, here is a glimpse into what the arriving cold means to us. What does winter mean to you? Love, e-board

Winter is watching you Bundle me tightly in layers of soft cashmere Only the tip of my nose encounters frigid air How you neatly tuck the ends of my pants into thick, wooly socks icicles brushing against the soft curve of my ankle Cold. Where do you seek warmth? -NK Winter is white sheets of snow blanketing the earth like paper waiting to be drawn on. -ED Winter is ice collecting on windowsills and leaving tracks like tears when it melts; looking up on the coldest, clearest nights and seeking stars on a cnvas of midnight blue as you send up a cloud of your breath like an offeringl the space between the silences absorbed by snow; finding warmth in threadbare sweater sleees and lighting your own way home in the dark. -MM The world changes from pinks and oranges to blues and finally gray. Colors sucked out of the city until all thats left is white. But the stars look brighter in the cold. -KN Winter is sundown before the day has even begun. Winter is snow that is beautiful until you have to walk to class. Winter is forgetting what warmth feels like until you’ve reached the spring. -LW Winter means long hours of darkness and slipping on ice; shoveling piles of heavy snow until you can no longer feel your fingertips. But winter also means more family game nights. It means baking cookies and huddling around the fireplace. It means curling up under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate as a Christmas movie plays on the TV. To me, winter brings comfort and peace. -ND


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spider on the ceiling // Kristina DaPonte when the sun rises sometimes you just sit and stare like the light is your fuel is that why you wander at night? your eyes are rimmed as red as the horizon behind the trees. i watch as you carefully avoid the cracks in the cracked tiles and let the water drip from the faucet you hold your phone to your chest as if the vibrations that never come will restart your heart. you spin yourself this intricate web and get tangled within its silks the breaths i hear get shorter as you flail your arms trying to free yourself from suffocation i watch you as i spin my own. but you are no ballerina your tights ripped long ago and your toes can no longer hold you up as they did before your dress and your hair were caught as you gradually lost your grace. but the sun will rise again maybe one day it will fill you up as your life’s adventures once did until then i’ll crawl around the top of your world and spin us a web we can both escape on.


im so dehydrated // Vivian Gao i thought you said that i could hold sunlight in the palms of my hands!

that i could keep the breath of the ocean in my lungs, carry the scent of seawater in every inhale quiet the winter winds before they tumbled me out to sea. 7

but when i tried, the sunlight trickled out between my fingers and fell

to the floor

like syrup

and the ocean filled my chest with a heavy current full of seaweed and barnacles and i felt myself blown off the coast and the wind threw me to the waves as if i were nothing more than a ping pong ball

swamp // Hanna Meng

Untouched // Charles Madden


Neskowin // Kathryn Norris

Bildungsroman // Bryana Dawkins you, soft bellied like the moon, spin in circles inside our shared heaven until you crash; no more dog days, no more living only in dreams.

you, bending in smooth arcs, concave, swallow the sea and the distant stars in one gulp, leave none for me, and slip into slumber, worn by the sun.

you, the owner of my secrets, pinch my cheek’s fat skin between your fingers, say no words, yet free me with little more than a smile,

all the while i am yours, an intermittent umbra, furled, waiting for my eyes to open, and the world to fill my heart with the same love it filled yours.


lucid // elzie doyle My mind expands as my world expands, Sometimes so chaotically that it breaks into pieces and releases my thoughts into the atmosphere. I struggle to collect them and pull them back. I am so afraid that once I start, I will become irretrievably lost within myself.

Today, I was drifting away. We walked through butterfly gardens


to my favorite park, And I curled up like a lamb in fields of clover and closed my eyes. I felt the light, Diffused by the leaves of plane trees, Dance over my eyes.

The everchanging sounds of our surroundings passed through my ears, And I let my mind race.

through fields And driving through valleys on highways. Then I found myself trapped in a world Entirely paved in concrete– Grey, flat, textureless, and empty, Save for narrow reflection pools on both sides of me. I held onto stems of lily pads, Dragging them through the water. I walked for miles Searching for a deep end Where they could take root, To no avail. I felt water splashing onto me, But I was alone, And there were no disturbances. I realized it was coming from a far off place, And I wondered how to leave my barren surroundings. Then, I heard from a distance, You calling out to me. You said it was raining, And I felt a drop land on my ear. I opened my eyes and saw you beside me, drawing a tree. I wonder if you realized, As I traversed through the desolate spaces of my mind, You were a tether to my drifting consciousness.

Sunshine on a Rainy Day // Yanni Pappas

I was being pulled

Untitled // Kai Doran

My Power // Katrina Makayan

when i was 17, i thought that sex is power. that i can have anyone in the palm of my hand, at any given moment. that physical intimacy meant being validated. but no one warned me that my vulnerability would be an unknowing invitation for something more. that showing an ounce of hesitation meant that i’m a bore. that staying silent meant yes, keep going, more. they’d never ask, so why would i give them an answer they weren’t looking for.


sex is power, i reminded myself. by power, maybe i just meant a distraction. something to pass the time. to alleviate my pain. but maybe i just meant a way to forget him. but i was only 17. i didn’t know anything else, except that sex is power.

// Kai Doran

Untouched // Charles Madden

I thought you would like to know // Mia Merchant


I thought you would like to know I saw a squirrel playing with a branch of the willow tree outside your house today Like a cat I thought you would like to know That every time I see a goose I think of you and how you would insist on feeding them Goldfish out of your hand, even—no, especially—when I told you not to And as constant as the knowledge that the stars will rise and the sun will set and I’ll never see the dark side of the moon so long as I’m alive I think there’ll always be some part of me that was you that will forever be in squirrels and willow trees and cats and geese and Goldfish You’re ingrained in my brain like an afterimage of the sun I thought you would like to know That you’re like a plague, a parasite, an mold infestation, an invasive species of my heart, you I thought you would like to know That I wish I could hate you and I’ve tried to hate you and everyone else says I should hate you and even after what you did to me and what I did to you I— Is it possible to hate someone you love or love someone you hate cause I Don’t even like you anymore, or the person I’ve become, but I can’t hate you as much as I don’t Love myself And the question that still haunts me, the one you asked and the one I wish I could stop asking Is how could I live without you and with everything I’ve done?

letter from the kitchen // Sophie Leggett


Dear, I’ve washed the dishes. Yours and mine. My sleeves are soaked my ring nearly fell down the drain my ceramic blue plate clanked and my nail polish chipped on the right index. When will you be home? To love me, I mean. You work so much these days. I washed the dishes. I dusted the windowsills and I left the blinds open like you wanted. I remembered what you wanted. The lamp with the embroidered shade stands in the corner by the chair I got you (it’s next to my chair) but the lamp won’t turn on I promise I’ll take a look at it, probably just the bulb needs replacing. That will be enough, enough. My wrist is sore from dusting dusting dusting I wanted to write to you, though, love, tell you that I miss you and I wish you were here. I’m sitting in this cozy little apartment we got just for us and I’m feeling so lucky but I can’t help but remember the bad times too. I feel so blessed I met you when I did. Not that I believe in God or anything anymore but if anyone were to love me like they say Jesus will (completely, unconditionally, mercifully) it was going to have to be soon. Last year I remember I was sitting freezing cold on those stone steps in front of the church that one night right before I found you. Do you remember? I was thin as yarn and my eyes sunk into my head like hot dark marbles. I thought the moon was watching me. The night before that was when my mother called to tell me I couldn’t contact my little brother anymore because it hurt him too much. I didn’t understand. That fall and that winter I was sitting in groups of people in low-lit and carpet kind of rooms trying to be just positively delightful and I would say something just a little bit wrong and I would think about it for the rest of the week. Doesn’t it feel like everyone else always knows what to say? In the spring I was sitting in a metal fold-up chair and drinking cold cold coffee and announcing my name over and over. If I hadn’t found you I might still be obsessing over every little thing

paneless // Charles Madden

I’d done wrong to hit rock bottom in a monologue to six or seven strangers in the basement of the community center next to Stop & Shop next to I-93. Just last year I think it was just after Christmas when my arm was all tied up with rubber (not that there was much arm to tie up). My skin orbited my elbow like a loose planet and the band just above constricted muscle to bone so I could make more holes that hurt my stomach too when I pressed in on the bruise. I atrophied. Last year I mutilated myself, dear, I cut through bone and flesh and I put so much poison in my body it seems like my body might have been mostly poison, might still be poison, might sting your tongue if you drink me too quick, last year I walked walked walked until my fingers grew fat with blood and the ring didn’t slide off quite as nice, last year you were watching me still but from a keyhole in the distance and not from right here inside our apartment, last year love I bled like a madwoman from underneath my yellow fingernails and last year one of my teeth fell out it was so rotten with all the care it didn’t get last year I thought you might like that I was skinny even though it was the poison and so I shrunk right down to the last drop and made sure everyone watching knew I was the most beautiful poison they’d ever laid eyes on last year I caked powder on my sunken eyes and made sure I was the most beautiful god damn test subject. I suppose it’s that I would’ve done anything to feel wanted. It’s that I would’ve conceived of a lover to sit beside me in this apartment, someone to wash blue dishes for and write letters to, someone who didn’t like the blinds closed so he could watch dust settle on unmatched towels from the free bin outside the school, someone to love me completely, unconditionally, mercifully. Without waiting for the trap to fold. I eat breakfast now. Is this better than before, love? Is it better? Come home soon. Yours,


Love You Forever (mom) // Zach Simon The tree may bear fruit But it is by the gardener’s labor That the sapling takes root

The tree may grow foliage and tall But it is up to the gardener To care for it even in the lifeless fall


Though the sun may shine and rain might fall It is the Gardner who is there through it all

Then, year after year, when the leaves grow red It is the cultivated-towering tree That gives the gardener a place to rest her head

But only because The gardener tucked it in to that soil-bed

gaia // Natasha Khoo 23

To: You (Many Years Later) // Katrina Makayan sometimes, we meet again in my dreams. like i’m preparing for the moment i bump into you in our hometown, at the gas station on the corner. or at the light hanging in the middle of the intersection between you and i. i wake up hoping we turned out differently than in reality. because 18 year old me held on too tight, i didn’t let you breathe, thinking it was all for love. 21

so my mind writes and rewrites a script for me to memorize. to somehow say “I’m sorry” again after all these years. not to relieve myself of guilt, but to remind you that i loved you dearly, that i still think about you from time to time, that i still roll over our last moments in my head like it was yesterday, that i would take it back so you can think of me fondly like i do of you. sometimes, i have to remind myself it’s just a dream. i can stop bracing myself for an encounter with you, because our chapter is done. i can’t rewrite it, no matter how much i want to. i’m 21 now and still learning from you.

Public Outlet // Charles Madden 22

we grow // Sabrina Ruiz

Mooncake // Elizabeth Cui

Friday afternoon, but you’re still dressed for work: black slacks, grey hairs. It’s that time of year again, with all the birds leaving the nest once more migrating north full of scholastic dreams and little time for home. But come September, I will miss this yellow-lacquer afternoon, the curve of your small fingers, jade earrings in the sun. We’re going mooncake hunting today. Scouring our picket-fence confines for a pocket of heritage. “I’m sorry miss, but we’re all out.” You nod, and promise to call tomorrow morning and the morning after that and the morning after that. You’ll remind me that Ellen’s mother sends her mooncakes every autumn, and I’ll remind you that it’s alright. But come September, I will open the tin box from its stamp-cardboard prison And like prized eggs, topaz baubles waxed moons, They sit.


A Warm Charm // Sree Vangala On long drives, she preferred to stop in bizarre little gas stations that seemed as though they had come directly from the sets of old movies. They were her familiar pockets of anonymity. Mara didn’t quite blend in with the average customer who dropped by, but she certainly wasn’t the most remarkable of characters to walk in at any particular rest stop. The locals and truckers didn’t stare at her any more than they did the pack of chocolate donuts. The odd person who did stare didn’t talk. As far as habits went, it wasn’t a terrible one to maintain She had worse ones.


Driving in the dark for hours, for example, was a terrible mistake. Now Mara was lonely and exhausted down to her bones; she hadn’t even seen a flickering orange streetlight for miles, and her headache was setting fire to her thoughts one by one. The stars above her were barely of any use, shrouded in a hazy fog. Blue. There were lights in the near distance, vaguely blue-green and misty enough to be a mirage. As she drove further, a little gas station peeked out from the road, flung so far out from whatever town it was attached to that it didn’t even seem to be affiliated with one. The sign was faded enough that she couldn’t quite make it out, but if she squinted, Mara could make out a large, loopy S. She went in, a rush of warm air greeting her the second she did so, but it was hotter than she expected it to be. Humid, too, with the scent of a bonfire in the air. Maybe there had been one earlier in the day—at any rate, she was too tired to spend another second on the ambience of this oven of a station she had just entered. There was a bored teenager at the register, with dyed icy highlights and biology homework on the counter. Nothing to worry about, she’d be quick going in and out, looking only for a bar of dark chocolate and a fizzy soda. The donuts were tempting but—oh.

She had believed that she was alone in here with the cashier, but there was an older man in the corner of the store. His eyes were on the donuts too, but with a predatory fixation. It was startling to see an adult lust after a Hostess package in a way that seemed obscene, but she looked away and thought: to each his own. She’d spare him no judgement. Cross on a chain, bulky jacket, beaten jeans… just another random like her. Mara sighed. Stick to the plan. Wait. She had believed that she was alone in here with the cashier, but someone was crying in the bathroom, a pained feminine voice, desperate and pleading, on the verge of shouting.

—no, no! please, please, I am not—

She wasn’t going anywhere near a hysterical voice at this time, but the voice sounded familiar. Slowly, Mara reached for her phone, and hoped that it had enough space on it to record the wails. A rush of warm air flooded the station again, and she winced. Hell, hell, hell, now where were the candies? Where were—ah, damn her headache. Grabbing the first package of chocolate she could find, Mara turned around, scanning the aisles for soda. It was difficult to read the writing on anything.

—liar! liar, murderess, temptress, heretic!—

She flinched when someone yelled from right behind her, but when Mara caught her reflection in the cracked mirror, no one else was there. Mara blinked. A shelf stood in front of her, full of torches and matches. —curls of hellish blue fire nipping at her feet, the scent of sulphur burning through her nose— Mara blinked again. There was a shelf of… soda, drinks, and gum, all brightly coloured. She reached for the cola and ended up with

—fire, fire in her mouth, flames consuming her body—

cinnamon gum, and thought: let me try that again.


She grabbed the nearest soda she could find, one that was utterly unremarkable. It was in her hand. Just the one. One, one, one. Hell, hell, hell. There was a bored teenager at the register, with dyed fiery highlights and chemistry homework on the counter. “Keep the change,” Mara said, but her voice seemed centuries away. Had she even handed them money to pay? Her left hand couldn’t feel her wallet. And her phone, now where had she put her phone? Hadn’t she reached for it earlier? There was a jingle. She looked up, and shivered against a sudden rush of wind. It left as soon as it came and —she was desperate for wind, even a soft whisper of salvation, please, plea— 27

the car was moving. She saw herself driving, her left hand on the wheel.

Mara must have started the car; might have even run to the car. But why would she have run? Her headache pulsed. She took a bite of her chocolate, and it was cold and bitter, like someone had fed it hatred. Mara nearly choked on it; her chest burned. On impulse, she threw the chocolate out the window. The plastic didn’t crinkle against her fingers. Where was her soda? Her mouth tasted like death. It seemed quieter all of a sudden. She blinked hard, swallowed. The drive was becoming hazy in her memory, and something felt terribly off. Hadn’t she stopped for gas? No, her fuel tank was on the wrong side of a quarter full. With one hand, Mara rubbed at her eyes; maybe she’d dozed off for a bit? Thankfully this road was always deserted, even if it meant she barely ever saw flickering orange street lights, let alone the blinding blue-white ones. She needed to stop somewhere, grab soda and chocolate before she got back on the road. Had she passed Salem yet? Mara had. Damn it. Damn her for missing Salem yet again.


Connect // Yanni Pappas

deep sea diving // Elzie Doyle


Strings // Abe Berman I keep strings On my fingers. I put them there To remember myself. I see you Keep strings too. Such wonderful colors You have found! You’ve tucked yourself Underneath those strings. I see you, and I love you. 31

I love your doubts, Your dreams and your lies, They feel familiar, and I love them. So much color Hidden under strings. They would loosen, if You love them. Don’t forget your fingers, Underneath these colors. These beautiful strings, These honest lies, No need to untie, just Soften your fists, and I’ll Give your strings a kiss

fuck off we’re just vibing // Sabrina Ruiz 35


Crime and Punishment // Gabriela Lehmann Rodri guez 34

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northeastern university 2021

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