Natasha Khoo President Elzie Doyle Creative Director Kathryn Norris Social Media Manager Mia Merchant Finance Manager Lily Weber Secretary
Cover art adapted from “Painted Skies, NYC” by Elzie Doyle 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.
A Letter from E-board // Natasha Khoo, Elzie Doyle, Kathryn Norris, Mia Merchant, Lily Weber
17 Years // Elke Thomas Vacation // Mirza Nayeem Ahmed
Blossoming // Ila Jagannath Sunflowers for My Mother // Jesica Bak
Solace of Bathroom Tile // Elzie Doyle Bury Me at Home // Zach Simon
Nothing Happens between Two People // Vlod Lukyanov Me Time // Mirza Nayeem Ahmed
Red Herring // Natasha Khoo I Am Not the Person I Want to Be Anymore // Lilian Anderson
Gilded City // Elzie Doyle Painted Skies, NYC // Elzie Doyle
Terracotta Soldier // Ila Jagannath Sleep Paralysis // Jesica Bak
Sacred Geometry // Rachel Molko Mosaic from Magic Garden // Aishwarya Deva
Ghosts I Know // Rachel Molko Unconscious Memories of the Self // Florita Gudeikaite
Train // Zach Simon Pink // Mirza Nayeem Ahmed
a letter from e-board
Much like how this year has progressed, Spectrum is navigating a time of change, uncertainty and new beginnings. In times like this, it’s hard not to get swept away by piling responsibilities, intrinsic pressures and not-so-ideal circumstances. So the question becomes, how do we stay rooted in the present? This issue explores, with quiet introspection, the core principles of Spectrum and the intentionality behind the words we leave behind. As we navigate these unknown waters together, we hope this magazine provides a space of comfort for you to explore and reflect inwardly. We’re excited to continue to share and collaborate with you. Here is a collection of words we want to leave with you to mark the beginning of this journey together:
From a new angle Looking back, looking forward On halcyon days -E.D.
Trace the blowing wind, Awakening dormant time -don’t forget to breathe -N.K.
How scary to not Know where life will soon take you And oh how thrilling -L.W.
The sun’s emergence From an eternal winter A fulfilled promise -M.M.
Salt water August Leaves soon red beneath the blue Turning back to new -K.N.
17 Years // Elke Thoms The bugs are cheering Back in the park where I first said “I love you” I had a feeling I didn’t mean it But the weeds were growing and I wanted to, too My best friend’s family moved away The hits radio station is now Christian rock My mom has lost too much weight My other best friend I don’t speak to She had a baby, I heard We’re still babies, I thought The last time the cicadas were out I went to the park with a backpack and crayons Sometimes I need a map for my own hometown
vacation // Mirza Nayeem Ahmed
blossoming // Ila Jagannath
Sunflowers for My Mother // Jesica Bak Sunflowers bloom with the trees And the bars on the window built so high, She couldn’t see She reached with nimble fingers —those that smelled of dirt and radish— For the sleepy plant Touch-me here; touch-me-not Leave me here; leave me to rot And she thinks in her past life She must have been a clock For all the waiting-on-people she’s done She feels anything but young She scoffs at herself and puts on her stockings, and heads out the door to count her bearings –– It was 1994 Records spinning, ambitions spilling all over the floor Her nose bleeding from staying up at all hours To dream of sunflowers She holds a baby in her arms And deems herself saved She doesn’t believe in God But suddenly has faith Yet she weeps, and watches the dust in the corners Turn to mountains she can’t move She had never tasted fruit, Or known what it was to be a woman I thought that no matter how many hills and brooks you crossed, The whole world was Korea And everyone in it was Korean. No words had pinched her heart more, And four years later she would leave Seoul for The promised land She is standing at the edge of the shore –– No photographs, Only my mind can dream up her blooming rosy cheeks, Her crooked, toothy smile And her calloused hands and tired feet She had crossed too many hills and brooks, I guess She wanted sunflowers and bargained for dying lilies instead To drown us in tulips and roses and red chrysanthemums
solace of bathroom tile // Elzie Doyle
Bury Me at Home // Zach Simon The emptiness of a house after a tender lover’s parting kiss News from the inevitable passage of time in lands afar Formerly familiar fields long left lingering, revisited The finality of inscribed stone Momentos of sweeter times Leftover longing for that which once was
Nothing happens between two people // Vlod Lukyanov A man, middle aged, full head of hair with only a few grays, sat outside of a cafe sipping a small cup of tea. One leg over the other, his tailored gray trousers were gently sullied. His brown jacket, with one of the buttons hanging off by a thin thread, relaxed on his body, clearly worn in, and hung by his sides revealing a clean white shirt underneath. His perfectly black shoes had gone matte from the dust he kicked up, with the occasional tuft of grass hidden in the outsole. Behind the reading glasses that he comfortably balanced on the tip of his nose, he divided his attention between the newspaper that lay limp on his raised leg, the cars and passer bys on the street, and very occasionally a young girl that sat at the opposite end of the cafe. … 11
Her shoes scraped the floor as she kicked her legs excitedly. Blonde hair comfortably swished with her every unconsciously confident move – she tapped her bright red nails on the nice glass table, drumming out an irregular rhythm. Her flowery dress hung limply, and her bright red shoes shone in the refracting sunlight. Her love for life and general positivity was printed all over her. She heaved spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee, leaving it to sink to the bottom rather than swirling it with the teaspoon that she stuck in the mug. Youthful carelessness. She absentmindedly swung her hair back and forth as she laughed with too much vigour. Her friend talked and trailed their hands through the air, illustrating some sort of plan, and she followed along with their every word. This energy persisted even when her friend pointed out the older man sitting outside, well dressed and looking smart. She quickly glanced over, and soon forgot him. … He sat up as the waitress approached him. She placed another scalding cup of tea, gently sitting on a little dish,
next to his previous cup. He promptly thanked her and poured half of a teaspoon of white sugar into his tea. Carefully he swirled the reddish brown liquid so as to not make too much noise. He was always a quiet, reserved man. Noticing his dirtied trousers, he whispered fairly restrained curses under his breath, and continued reading his newspaper. He picked it up to look at it closer. The sports section had nothing of note: another regional boxing champion at Middleweight, another loss from the local football team, and a professional golfer retiring at 55. The politics section focused primarily on the candidates for the local county elections, with the occasional mention of some petition here and there. The cartoon section had the same tired comics as the past twenty years. All in all, another week of nothing in particular. Without lowering the newspaper, he glanced at the girl across the cafe. … She listened to a half-baked gap year plan, hesitating to say anything, finding it unnecessary to break her friend’s spirit so early on. Understandably she didn’t think much about it, that line of action coming more as an instinctual thought than a conscious one. She hadn’t yet learnt to discern such things in her youthful immaturity. There was to be a direct flight to Turkey, from where her friend would flyover to Ukraine and hire a van for three months, in which she would drive to Poland, then to Germany, crossing into the Czech Republic, then into Austria, Croatia, Serbia, a brief stop at Romania, and finally back in Ukraine. From there, she takes a flight to Turkey, and then travels to Greece to end her year abroad with a party on a yacht. She nodded along with the name of every location. Occasionally, she would glance at the graying middle aged man sitting outside. … He had no real idea as to why he had looked at the girl, noting the apparent age difference. He chose to continue pouring over his boring paper, and ignore her entirely. He ordered his third cup of tea, with a quiet disappointment over the small size. It was far too expensive, for an Earl Grey no less.
He put the newspaper down on his lap, leaving it unfurled and open on the advertisement two page spread. Out of the inner pocket in his jacket he took out a small leather-bound book, dyed a strong House-of-Commons green. He had no real connection to parliament or any real interest in politics, but a brief sight-seeing visit several years back led him to a well stocked gift shop where had found his signature pocket book. In it were several to-do lists, some notes, and the occasional unfunny joke he would use at dinner parties. Right now, he had remembered he promised an acquaintance he would help them move in. He noted this down. … She stood at the counter, trying to pay. On her side of the table was a dirty plate and two finished cups of coffee. She rummaged in her wallet, scraping together all the money she could. She was from a comfortable background, but often found herself struggling with proper budgeting.
The total came to about £20, which she paid with the help of her friend, and the girls headed off outside. She walked by the table where the graying middle aged man sat, and exchanged glances with him for a brief moment. No spark, no hidden flame, nothing. She looked at the newspaper, taking mental note of some advertisement on it. She walked down the street, laughing with her friend, soon going out of sight as she turned the corner. … He hardly noticed how she walked by him, being far too engrossed in his note taking. He got carried away, and started writing something altogether unrelated to his plans for the weekend. When his light was obstructed by a small shadow, he glanced upwards to see the young girl. Nothing. No lingering emotions, no bedroom ghosts. He looked back down to his scribbling. The tiny cup of Earl Grey was going cold, and his foot tapped erratically at the ground.
me time // Mirza Nayeem Ahmed
red herring // Natasha Khoo
I am not the person I want to be anymore // Lilian Anderson Today I want to wrap myself in bandages, mummify who I was yesterday. Cocoon myself, bask in the shadows for a while.
Soon this hope will be torn off. I see her unwrapping my woven protectant, eyelids betraying watery blueness, my being unsheltered from others– views unrestricted from mirrors.
Masks torn aside, no longer mandated foreign again are the half faces, Hidden smiles and unsuspected features.
I cannot help but glare at the irony, My eyes meeting their squinting second selves As I fix my silvery visage’s posture in the reflection, She’s not who I want to be anymore.
gilded city // Elzie Doyle
i want to capture the way You glow in darkness, never letting it fully settle upon You. the way You stay still, as everything moves in and around You. Your consistent strength, the strength of what makes You. as You are, You move me.
painted skies, nyc // Elzie Doyle
terracotta soldier // Ila Jagannath
Sleep Paralysis // Jesica Bak have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a demon’s hands around your throat? no, she doesn’t look like that she looks like your very first time letting it slide the silence that thickens the air and clouds your mind fogs up your lungs and anchors your heart and blindsides your eyes the hands on the clock that won’t rotate counterclockwise and the broken windchimes or your shattered windpipes and the i’m sorries and the neverminds the knot in your tongue the knot in your rope the knot in your tie and i’m running low on patience i’m running thin on ice running out of grounds to run on running for my life and i’m running out of ands– why can’t you see what she looks like? you’ve never seen her before the sun always comes up before you do
Sacred Geometry // Rachel Molko Pythagoras baptizes himself Philosopher, not before the oscillating strings of the guqin stop midway along their length to perform an octave. Just this way, the tsunami that follows the quake in Crete swallows the secrets of Alexandria despite discrete changes in molecules: two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen.
Plutarch says that Plato says that God 21
geometrizes all things. Euclid responds that the existence of the divine road to geometry is non. The road is a common one, trodden along by common men who utter common words yet ponder the sacred thoughts of seven circles and the origin of all things geometric. Honeycombs. Find God in each and every six-sided well. Find God dripping into teacups from the silver spoon. Find God
in the unsteady usher of the flame. Find God in the languid lies of the pregnant needle. Find God in the brown sugar euphoria. Find God.
n // A ish
wa r ya
Ghosts I Know // Rachel Molko I do not exist before this moment, crossing this threshold of another brick edifice. I put my formative years in safety deposit box eleven, First National Bank. I swallow the key.
Unconscious memories of the self // Florita Gudeikaite
Lamentation is the way to New York, reading Mitch, wondering how I could accept the world for I have done nothing to earn its welcome but overeat and procrastinate. He asks me if I’ve read Tuesdays with Morrie. A quiet No coughs from my tear-wet lips. 24 I’m hungry for a sandwich and there are too many boys in suits. Where the hell are the citronella candles? Sunken Blue Eyes offer me a third pickle spear and with each crunchy bite, I regard the poisonous pattens of my nature. Suddenly, I don’t have knees.
Train // Zach Simon I took the train home from the airport facing backwards I probably should’ve faced forwards I get motion sick - thanks, mom
But all I was doing was looking back The seat was too comfy to get up and switch So I stayed Even when I felt nauseous
Maybe that way I got to sightsee more
Or maybe I just didn’t like the idea of missing that which was past me.
pin /M k/ irz aN ay ee m Ah me d 29
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