Dane Saltz Creative Director Natasha Khoo Finance Manager Lily Weber Secretary
Jade Fiorilla Editor-in-Chief
Jenna Fey McKenzie Hosey Izze Kilgariff Mia Merchant Katherine Murphy Sadie Ouillette Elizabeth Wheeler
Cover art adapted from “Akeley” by Peter Ganovsky 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.
Letter from the Editor // Jade Fiorilla
Untitled // Mel St.Cyr Imagine // Valentina Lubomirska
Blending In // Elzie Doyle Liberated // Zach Simon
Passed Away Past // Zach Simon Ongoing // Jenna Fey
Quarantine // Kristine Aleksandrovica & Tamara Nikotina
Birth of a Black Girl // Stella Ikpatt A Complete Ending // Volodymyr Olexandrovich Lukyanov
return // Gwen Cusing Akeley // Peter Ganovsky
I lost myself at sea // Sophie Leggett selfportrait // Omarlyn
Medusa // Kristine Aleksandrovica Pastprayer // Peter Ganovsky
Dane and Mel in Florida // Taraneh Azar
Our Boxes, Ourselves // Debby Nguyen Trash // Noah Doty
Shapes in the Sky // Yanni Pappas
Tremont Street // Taraneh Azar Boston // Lily Weber
In the Doorway // Taraneh Azar
If I Look Up I Will Fall Down // Mirza Nayeem Ahmed
tt e r from
As a graduating fourth year, I think it is fair for this letter to take on a tone of reflection. I could cast back to my first semester of college: leaving the architecture studio at 2 AM, introducing Game of Thrones to my roommates, and of course, attending Spectrum meetings. But to be honest, I would rather reflect on the past year. The ongoing racial violence is incredibly sickening and enraging. As white supremacists wave their guns, abuse their privileges, and spread misinformation, I find it more and more difficult to define myself without first acknowledging my Asian skin, Asian hair, and Asian eyes. The ongoing pandemic has changed everyone’s plans for the future. I like to think that it has also encouraged people to look inward for a change. In our current culture, mental health is considered inferior to physical fitness—we openly discuss how far we run, how much weight we can lift, but conversations about mental health tend to be brief and superficial.
m the ed itor And all the while the world keeps spinning. With such a tumultuous past year, I am so proud of what Spectrum has accomplished. Between those who submitted their work and those who attend our general meetings, we have been able to produce innovative, interactive, evocative, and aesthetic publications. I would also like to give credit to the rest of the executive board; they have put in a significant amount of time and effort into the production of our Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 issues. Finally, I would also like to thank the readers. I came into the role of editor with a love for literary arts magazines and a desire to share this love with the Northeastern community. I hope that our work this academic year has encouraged you to see literary arts magazines as versatile, engaging, and inspiring. With love, Jade Fiorilla
untitled // Mel St.Cyr
Imagine // Valentina Lubomirska a mountain. One that breathes, and lays heavy under the sun, sand encircling all its sides and sticking to its skin. Imagine that the mountain is your back, your belly is breaded in sand, and with eyes closed, you concentrate on the salty oeuvre of crashing waves and beads of sweat. You’ve put on sunscreen, both knees reached the sand, then your hands, then your cheek, and when you’re completely still, the only sensation to feel is the hot sun treading on your back. Imagine a drop of liquid salt growing at the base of your neck. Once it’s fully grown, it rolls down your spine, rollercoasting on each vertebra, until you take a deep breath: the bead takes a left off your lowest rib, hurling itself down your side and thawing in the grains of sand. Does it feel ticklish? The sun is arresting and you don’t dare shiver at the passing breeze, otherwise the warmth pervading your skin could evaporate. It hasn’t started burning yet, but you’re excited for when it does, and you can rise like a dormant volcano, sand revealing skin, and saunter to the ocean with your eyes closed, guided by the sound of the waves. Even from a distance, the broken acoustic of bare feet shuffling on the creaking boards of the pier up the beach can’t drown the ocean's soundless lullaby. Submitting your skin for the sun to seize, you take a breath, and your body melts even deeper into the weathered sea shells.
Blending In // Elzie Doyle
Liberated // Zach Simon I lay in bed and thought of you and all you had put me through I wondered how we had gotten so close so quickly and yet burnt out so soon And I realized you were not the you that I loved but a memory of the shadow which had left it’s impression burned into my memories from when I first saw you as the center of my solar system, the light glaring behind you and drawing an outline that showed your smooth exterior but not your rough edges and the black hole inside and so when I said I loved you I truly meant the you that existed in me and not the you that existed before me with all of its selfishness and lies and gaslighting and I guess I should have known that you, like the sun, would eventually start burning as gas often does and consume everything that you had left your mark on and every time I try to drench the flame it finds its way from ember to blaze and so that is why I had to let go of you and all you had clung on to in my life because the searing memories and the torched interests of my past were worth the sacrifice to salvage what was left from the burning wreckage And so, I had to let go
Passed Away Past // Zach Simon
A brush of air Caresses my cheek Wing’ed above A reflection Is he who I could have been? Do I look down On him Like he looks down On me?
Ongoing // Jenna Fey
Quarantine // Kristine Aleksandrovica & Tamara Nikotina
Birth of a Black Girl // Stella Ikpatt
A Complete Ending // Volodymyr Olexandrovich Lukyanov I On the top floor of a small building in Croydon, behind a door labelled “Apartment C,” hidden in the hollow walls, is a body. It’s decaying, rotting and ripping at its seams. Even though its lips hang at its chest by a loose bit of skin, it whispers. These whispers aren’t meant for anyone, or anything. They are only an assertion. Its whispers lack coherence, they lack language, they transcend understanding as even without words the body speaks of beautiful things. The man keeping it there sits and rests his head by the thin wall, and listens to the breathing, the syllables enunciated with such harshness and yet a striking serenity. It is a dying breath stretched out to a novel of a lifetime, every pulse that hadn’t been—expressed through the quivering jaw of an eyeless carcass. It fingers gently the asbestos around it, trying to find comfort but suffering in its awkward position and eternal blindness. However, when the man wasn’t around to give unwanted company, the body spoke cleanly, in a pretty whine much like that of whales. It painted an image of flying through the clouds and looking down on a peaceful world, robbed of its blemishes and fires. The whine travelled far from the apartment, and joined into the chorus of the undead.
A cottage stands on the far side of the country, with a beautiful view of rolling green hills and lively trees that sway in the wind. In this cottage a lovely old couple would sometimes water the flowers by the fence—flowers that had been there far before they moved in. These flowers grew around the bones of a dead man. He died in brutal, whimpering agony. He was afraid back then, but now, although anxiously, he rested in the soil. His bones, the flesh that used to stick to them, fed the soil with great nutrients, such that you can’t find anywhere in the English soil, and from him grew gorgeous flowers that all the visitors of the cottage adored wholeheartedly. No one knew of the body or of the life he still held onto, chewing on the soil as if to respond to the calling whine he could hear so clearly. A whale-like whine, from a far city that he had never seen, playfully approached him. The reverberating notes bounced around his skull, they mingled with the maggots that laid where his brain used to be, making an ocarina out of the holes that peppered his head. He was driven mad yet didn’t move in fear that it would hurt the flowers, the gentle souls that fed off of him. In death he found a meaning, a reason, something that grounded him and saved his soul from being mauled. He took care of the flowers that lived off of him, and they held him tenderly, hugging his broken bones close to their own bodies. So he moved his jaw helplessly, wheezing little phrases in sounds of flutes and woodwinds that reached far beyond the ears of the roots that rolled and twirled around his battered bones.
III In a church, old and wasted, where the Sunday services were long over, a pastor lay in his holy sarcophagus. The pastor’s body was well preserved, and he didn’t struggle against the heavy lid that bore his image. He calmly lay listening to the singing whine and scraping flutes that now colored the walls of the overgrown church, and under his breath he began to sing. He had the voice of an old man, just like when he sang during his days of Sunday services and evening prayer. He fondly remembered when he walked ceremoniously and gave communion, the many services he officiated, or the many baptisms of smiling newborns. If he could cry, he would have, but instead he twisted his mouth into a smile and sang a deep note. IV Gazing aimlessly from atop a steep hill, two young lovers left their new house. It overlooked the ocean, filled with a revitalizing breeze that brought chills and warm air in equal measure. As they walked together, they passed their neighbor’s house, almost identical to theirs but painted a dark pink, muted to match the white details around the windows. They didn’t know about the body in the boot of the car right next to them, as they casually continued their walk. The body was still fresh, its smell swept away by the wind that battered the seaside. It heard the whines, the gentle painful flute, and the deep notes that sung a song it hadn’t heard before. In this song, it saw a life. It was a life that was wholly new. It was sitting in the walls and singing, it was feeding plants deep underground, it was a remaining memory of service. It was countless other experiences that played their own quiet songs. It was death. The sounds of the dead, a deafening silence that at once was a loud bird song as much as a complete ending. The body relaxed, shying away from the wind beating against the boot of the car, and stopped crying.
return // Gwen Cusing Warning: objects in this mirror are closer than they appear. // I go back again & again. My inheritance a journey east, ocean to ocean, following the salt in the air. // Island: a piece of land surrounded by water
Iniisip kita: my grandfather waking me in the grey morning to feed the doves in the peeling red shed Leave: to go away from; to allow to remain Mahal kita: opening the dovecote doors and trusting the doves will choose to stay // & what can we say now about islands & the people who are born there & the people who leave & keep on leaving & what may lie beneath the waves, waterlogged, tangled in the glittering seaweed.
Akeley // Peter Ganovsky
I lost myself at sea // Sophie Leggett you! where have you been? you with dandelions pressed into fleshy hands yellow sun-tattoos in the corner of your coloring book— you, with your arms out like wings and your notebooks hardly rhyming eyes on empty chair in which the interviewee sits, the famous you who couldn’t put down your book or your hand in class cross-legged on the carpet clip-on earrings glittering showing off and blushing where have you been? 20
I scratched and clawed my way toward you, dug through soil and bedrock until my nails bled and I forgot what I was looking for— you— I nearly gave up on you— I stopped going outside to look for flooding after a rainstorm I searched in latte foam for pieces of you in a glass relief and in fancy shoes and I thought my looking was poetic: I was the wife of a prisoner, I was the prisoner’s secret journal, no.
selfportrait // Omarlyn
I was merely lost. I lived in a deep fog, without you, under a deep sea unwilling to give up my voice where have you been all this time? I should be boiling over with rage I should stomp on the floor and yell and maybe I won’t let you in, you, who’s been off who knows where for who knows how long and you who left me here to wander and write letters that never made it past the guards and choose paths without a flashlight I should resent you. and I should be angry locking doors shutting blinds and bidding you a loud good night for all you’ve done for me, to me, you, you promised and I believed you you double-crossing disloyal backstabbing mean-spirited time-wasting knife-wielding two-faced bitch of a shadow, you— but I am far too relieved. come in. let’s have tea.
Medusa // Kristine Aleksandrovica
Pastprayer // Peter Ganovsky Smooth balm over me yourskin crying yours at day solipsism is my bedrest im tethered to precious movements writing newness from that there to that one writhing and back youre so soft mouthing into me at the corner of the bed our thighs pastprayer heard makes no sense to devoted thing made of spit its the feeling of warm lakewater theres pain at seven andteeth crushing leg bone ivycrawl surging and coated theyre my veins gone to the cathedral wall whispering your name to me lying with you firstnight languid our bodies in june and song to me old voice quietly reach youwaiting for me cherry stemmed your lips a knot wound this in that pew babytoothed taking warmth from my cheek sacredgiving over time youre that moment spoken to god is a mirror yourelight is in my eyes squinting its sating of the tongue the sweat on your neck
Dane and Mel in Florida // Taraneh Azar
Our Boxes, Ourselves // Debby Nguyen While cooking dinner last night, I tuned in to an NPR podcast on what you identify as in America vs. where you come from or another country. “Our Boxes, Ourselves.” That’s the episode’s title.
Here, I know which box I belong in Asian— My mother tongue is Vietnamese. “Asian” in Vietnamese translates to “ngu’ ò’ i Châu Á”: A person from the Asian continent Long, clunky, and technical. Too long in fact to squeeze the entire word even if you bend it left and right into a neat, tight square with unforgiving solid borders borders cutting through mountains cleaving a river in two sectioning even a stream in half, vertically down the middle edges the white men wish they could draw but my ancestors bled on trees like markers keeping hikers from getting lost to keep our unruly lines instead. Miss Saigon Apocalypse Now Full Metal Jacket any movie that needs to whisper, “psss, it’s the 70s!” My land is a flashback, a jungle Opening or in-between scenes bombs falling ike monsoon rain my neighbors danced in rain my grandparents braced under. I strained my ears at these cuts hoping to catch what the Vietnamese people are saying but usually, we are vague shouts from the bushes— “It’s the Viet Cong!”
screams before the explosion shots or whores in Saigon’s bars that don’t have much to say. The lead in Miss Saigon is Filipino Claude-Michel Schönberg—French composer— included songs with a soup of Vietnamese words he liked that made me question if I had lost my mother tongue dumbfounded when my friends asked what the Vietnamese characters were singing. “You’re Vietnamese right? What are your thoughts on the war?” A Nebraskan asked me three times in the span of one week. “My parents were born the year after the war. We don’t talk about it often and I feel no particular hatred.” Should I perform and sing in gibberish for you or flip into a Vietnamese accent that I’d lost long ago to speak of war crimes or tell you morbid jokes about famine and hunger my grandpa makes at dinner because that’s how we choose to fight on, my grandpa, who wears my Boston bought-at-Logan-airport T-shirt? “Our Boxes, Ourselves.” Your boxes, America The boxes I fill every time you make me ask for the mercy of breathing your air, setting my foot down on your soil, before I even see land. Asian— that’s the box for me here but my tongue, my eyes, my skin my voice, my hair and my toes Hanoi, Saigon, Vietnam.
Trash // Noah Doty
Shapes in the Sky // Yanni Pappas
Tremont Street // Taraneh Azar
Boston // Lily Weber The city that scares me That reaches down with two angry hands Plucks me from my bed and deposits me on the sidewalk I can wander the same streets Loiter on the same corners Slam my fists into the same concrete walls And yet it still doesn’t feel like home They say there is comfort in the familiar But I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this place Where sweet talking drunk men can charm me into the ATM around the corner Where men beat their girlfriends with broken glass bottles So I call 911 But they say they’re busy So I hang up and watch them get into a car together Where homeless men preach to the streets because no one else will listen Where I can wander by the churches and the libraries and the chocolate shops at 3am When it feels like the sun’s about to rise even though the world’s never seemed so dark And I just wish I could get something to eat But everything’s closed And I wait for the train so long I start to doubt it will ever come I’ll freeze out here and they’ll have to pry me off the tracks in the morning So I pour my liquor into a coffee cup Because even the warmest of jackets isn’t enough — And it’s beautiful here too The river is bright and crystal blue And at night it ripples like black velvet I’ve stood there enough times to know
I’d sit in the grass at the park and watch old men feed the squirrels Stare in awe at the haze on the horizon The sun throwing shadows against the burning white buildings The perpetual construction littering dust like snow — I’ve sat in the public library Where so many people overdose that there’s a sharps collector in the bathroom and a stretcher at the front door
And I sit there But I can never study Always captivated by this sick, deluded form of cruelty disguised as entertainment Like a museum of painful memories A tour of all the highlights I take walks to all the famous sites This place does not let you go quietly It drags you back Kicking and screaming and scratching at the concrete Closing your eyes so tightly it hurts Your toes so numb from the cold you can’t bear to walk anymore But somehow you manage Some nights that’s all I could do Wander aimlessly until the cold was all I felt And the hands reached down once more
In the Doorway // Taraneh Azar
34 If I L
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