S P R I N G
2 0 1 9
Before and After
Erin Noh Washington University in St. Louis, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Gouache and color pencils
SPIRES intercollegiate arts & literary magazine
Copyright 2019, Spires Magazine Volume XXIV Issue II All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from Spires and the author. Critics, however, are welcome to quote brief passages by way of criticism and review. firstname.lastname@example.org sites.wustl.edu/spires facebook.com/spiresintercollegiatemagazine
Table of Contents Literature 8
Aliyah Jade Cotton evidence for the necessity of my removal by child protective services
Eleni Kokinos Spritzing Perfume on Pulse Points
Eleni Kokinos Oophorectomy
Eric Bischoff Cheese
Izzy Hill Staple
Eliza Ross Flightless
Catherine Webb The Aftermath
Erin Noh Traditional But Modern
Catherine Webb Tennis
Eliza Ross Please Don’t Go
Kelly Wu (Tsae Yung Wu) Requiem
Hugh Hoagland Meditations on a Dwelling (1)
Amy Chen Unwind
Jenny Lee Lost
Joanna Yamakami found in translation
Gabrielle Jung my own way, darling
Eric Bischoff Polish
Eleni Kokinos Tipping Point
Lily Dolin New Exhibition
A.J. Takata Reverse Genocide
Jenny Lee Where is My True Paradise?
Min Sin Pink Hurts
Front Cover Jenny Lee Landscape II Carnegie Mellon University, ’21 Acrylic and palette paper on paper Back Cover Kelly Wu (Tsae Yung Wu) Heart Protector Pratt Institute ’21 Oil on canvas
Staff Editors-in-chief Haley Berg Madeline Partner Literary Editors Molly Davis Isabelle Celentano Art Editor Amy Chen Layout Director Isabelle Celentano Social Media Director Alli Hollender Treasurer Madeline Partner Staff Norah Cahill Annabel Chosy Kendall Dawson Sarah Gao Nick Guadiana Allie Weske Nasja Wickerhauser Aiden Wolter
Letter from the Editors Dear Reader, Works in this issue ask us what it means to be a woman, what it means to be art, what it means to belong. The writers have their own answers, and writing allows each reader to interpret it differently, according to the ways in which theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve interacted with the world. Our contributors search for meaning in identity, family, womanhood, and nationality, and as readers, we build upon each work by bringing our own experiences to the pieces. Fundamentally we, as Editors-in-Chief, love this magazine because we see art as a medium through which to navigate struggles and convictions central to our identities. Though we do not want to linger on ourselves, we want to express how much Spires has influenced our time at Washington University. As graduating seniors looking back at four years, we can easily see how this magazine changed us for the betterâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; through strong friendships, leadership, and the strength to stand up for our opinions. When we joined Spires as first years, we immediately felt that we were joining a community where all contributions would be respected and valued. It has been a privilege to read the work of our peers each semester. There is an intimacy in giving over oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work to be reviewed, and we thank all of our contributors for allowing us a glimpse into themselves. We are thrilled to present this collection of art and prose from students at Washington University and universities across the nation. Life moves so quickly, and we hope that reading these pieces gives you pause and time to reflect on your place in the world. Sincerely,
Haley Berg and Madeline Partner Editors-in-Chief
evidence for the necessity of my removal by child protective services For example, there were holes in my motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s faded blue jeans, the edges frayed like the uncombed hairs lining her forehead. This is how she answered the door. For example, the contents of our refrigerator: beer, an onion, three Caprisuns, and milk, expired five days. The sky hung purple at the top of the freezer because there were no blue crayons. We had no pictures on the walls. What the walls did have were cockroaches. I was not yet old enough to be afraid And made a game of folding old mail into airplanes, And knocking the roaches down. The corner behind the kitchen table looked like an airport. I puffed on my albuterol sulfate inhaler while she smoked Marlboros, the smoke sifting through the air like flour. I knew never to call 911. For example, I remember my mother sitting on the living room sofa at night doing coke and listening to Alicia Keys by the glow of the tv. We slow danced to it. Those were my favorite kind of nights.
Aliyah Jade Cotton University of Virginia, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;19
Flightless Eliza Ross Pratt Institute, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Digital Art
found in translation sandwiches leave a sour taste in my mouth because my dad doesn’t speak perfect english we drive by the sandwich shop we used to frequent they saw a man who didn’t speak “perfect” english they pretended “You want what?” they say “We don’t serve your kind of sandwich here” they persist “We don’t understand you” my translation: “no shirt, no perfect english speaking, no service” my parents said nothing | わたしのりょうしんは、なにもいいませんでした。 you see a man who holds up the line at In-N-Out a woman who confuses “r”s and “l”s in April i know 5am morning goodbye kisses before work 10pm japanese children storybook time before sleep i taste love languages boiled into soba fried into gyoza i feel tight octopus hugs i love わたしは、りょうしんのためにいいます。| i speak for them. Joanna Yamakami New York University, ’21
my own way, darling Dear Ji-yung, You are not paper-real. No one knows you, calls you by your name, but I still try, desperately holding you close to heart and home. I am afraid of losing you, forgetting you. I remember receiving a scholarship through The Korea Times newspaper, how they called the house phone and asked for you, to verify our existence. How all at once I forgot my other name, my other people, couldn’t recall the shape of my mother’s hands rough from kimchi salt, mistook the sound of my own voice. I want to know you better, want to love you as myself. I do not want us to be lost in the diaspora, scattered by western winds. I find you when I measure out the water levels above the rice with ease (up to the first bend of your index finger, I can hear my mother say). I sometimes catch you reflected back onto me. Naked, alone, we step into the shower. You don’t speak or let me tell you how beautiful I think you are, all straight, jet-black hair, my father’s nose and my mother’s eyes. My ancestral line stares me down. Maybe you are afraid of our selves being unaligned, our gait unsteady and our movements jerky. A body made in Korea, assembled in the USA. That’s fair. We are from different lands, surrounded by different seas and borders. You grew up on garlic, pig’s feet, and seaweed soup. I, on chicken cutlet, baked ziti, skirt steak. It’s our mother’s food just the same, you know. Her food and our same tongue keep me tied to you. I’m sorry I set you aside all those years exploring my queerness, mapping out my body and mind and heart without you. I shouldn’t have left you sidelined, my other half, my mother and my father and my sisters and my brother’s blood. I thought things would be easier if I could pretend that I did not hear you crying out every night at the moon, sobbing at my mother’s side. You deserve to be heard, to speak without shame, to love girls who will understand you beyond your words, who will feel and hold your rage and grief close as you dress the wounds left behind from those you have lost to war and hunger and time. Thousands of miles, years, lifetimes ago. The hurt remains in the here and now. I know you feel it, because I feel it too. I promise we will spend more time together, that we will learn all the ways we want to be loved, hand in hand. I promise to fill up on all the fermented foods, multigrain rice,
red bean, and sesame oil our body craves. In turn, let the rivers of Hangul spill from my mouth, flooding out our second-generation shame. Listen to my sadness for the time we have lost, my joy for the time we will share. I am your echo, your flag, your nation, proud. 사랑해 / I love you 정지영 / Jung Ji-yung.
Gabrielle Jung Washington University in St. Louis, ’20
Traditional But Modern Erin Noh Washington University in St. Louis, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Mixed media
Please Don’t Go Eliza Ross Pratt Institute, ’21 Digital art
Polish You know, when he was little, Jacek would visit a dog everyone called mean, but it loved him, but the day he was leaving, the day he went to say goodbye, it bit himJacek drives, his face stern, there is a large scar which cuts through the peach fuzz on his right cheek he was cold after that. . . Between stories of corn farms, insulation factories, nazi ships on their biggest rivers, traffic on their oldest bridges, trains of copper for Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wires, and Great Poland, with its Great Wheat, and sugar made from beets, Jacek tells of a late train, in his army days (I knew about the dog, but never much of the army) and a 4-mile 1:00am walk down a pitch black streetSounds spooky. No, Eric, I do not get scared. but still, when it comes to streets, for me, I can only stand to walk those miles metaphoricallythe invasions fought off which he talks with honor of, I know at home as the atrocious deeds of American forefathers,
and as the guilt of a history which raised me. And the poverty and survival he speaks of, I know only as a bored depression I waited through, and nervous heat in my brain, chewing fingernails for a Gestapo I’ve only imagined. And, all in all, the point of my prattling on, and the source of the passed-down poison which devalues my pain into soft depression, can be summed up by saying that Jacek does not get scared while my mind anxiously fries in the oil of half wet hair, a shirt that makes my chest look like a barrel, and shorts that make me into a boy scout. Mine is a fear too tight, but which looks too big, like my name, spelled by my cousin: “Eryk” a spelling which I love, but does not fit, like the second-hand hand-me-down pain, already broken in by someone who may’ve died in it. So I trade in the sturdy, threelegged “y” for a small arm
with a smaller pimple: “i”, which I can poetically lie into an identity, I, or an all encompassing, poetic Eye, when I need to garner praise or authority. and the fierce, four-armed k, the same k which fought off the Germans for two months with no help and barely an army or equipment while the French lasted 2 weeks, I bend carelessly like a spent beer can into a lazy lowercase c. some polish smoked dried dead winter leaves for the oral fixation, and we were allowed just one bottle of vodka a month, I hear through the white noise of my hangover, remembering again, the only wars I fight; anxiety; myself; a small, lowercase “i” lazily spread unevenly on the smaller “c”, against a blank, dull sky. I’m standing unbalanced on the sturdy foundation some stronger ancestors built with their bones, their blood, survival, and strifeand I’m scratching my head, furrowing my eyebrows to look serious, to pretend intention, complaining of the weather,
but unlike Jacek, and really for the best, it’s not quite cold yet, and I’m not quite old yet, and feelings still fondle my anxious eyes.
Eric Bischoff Emerson College, ’20
Meditations on a Dwelling (1) Hugh Hoagland Washington University in St. Louis, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;19 Inkjet prints
Spritzing Perfume on Pulse Points steam rises from the epsom salt bath I’m soaking in and I’m reminded that I was told to stop smoking perturbed path I try holistic healing – prognosis peeling I might as well puff the best cigars I can afford predestination’s wrath ignoring the wrinkled tributaries of my thin-skinned hands yellow-tinted, I take a lesson from Che A smoke in times of bathing is a great companion to the solitary sudster soap bubbles fill in the sockets of my collar bones where the heirloom opalescent necklace rests peacefully knowing that it has its own clause Is biological affliction just a set of unsolved organic chemistry problems? I emerge with lavender oil running down my lumpy breasts and smell the oncologist’s office a life’s purpose focused on putting pauses on people’s lives till the pauses can’t hold anymore Did I spend too much time worrying about my round bottom flask of a body?
I always wanted to take a glass blowing class always wanted to press my fingers into clay wanted to learn how to paint
58 undressed in front of a mirror struggling with how to clean a port
Eleni Kokinos Washington University in St. Louis, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21
Pink Hurts Min Sin Pratt Institute, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;20 Screenprints
Oophorectomy A predisposed terminus, Presented by acts of prevention. Her physical figure betrayed itself. Like the papillae expecting snow, soot settled down on her womanhood. Premenopausal – a self-inflicted eviction, a first home removed by a choice. Clipping butterfly wings On a wheel bound mattress, we discussed the impossibility of poetry. Ce n’est pas un knife. A surgeon stood focused over her body, Mother and lover and sister and wife.
Eleni Kokinos Washington University in St. Louis, ’21
Cheese the moon radiates serene white light like a smile spark in pupil in lover’s nitrous eyes i bet you fucking want me to write about it you sick fuck the moon is alright it controls the seas, so if the sea is my home womb then that makes the moon like my father i never had a father figure yeah the moon’s alright but it’s never going to be as good as when i thought it was cheese.
Eric Bischoff Emerson College, ’20
Catherine Webb Yale University, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22 Digital photo with gouache, oil pastel, and watercolor
Catherine Webb Yale University, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22 Digital photo with gouache, oil pastel, and watercolor
Staple I know a woman who swallowed a staple. She said it happened in kindergarten, when she was young and had a habit of putting all sorts of things in her mouth: toys, leaves, the ends of pencils. She wasn’t sick or even curious, just young, acting without a sense of responsibility for her actions. She didn’t know she was doing something wrong, something dangerous; it was a natural way for her to learn more about the staple’s metal, [unassuming as a silvery drop of mercury]. We all have misshapen objects in our bodies leftover from childhood. My father used to take me to the park and let me eat the spiked berries that fell from the sweet gum trees. Dingleberries we called them. “They put hair on your chest,” my father said when confronted with photographic evidence: me, barely a year old and still more soft rolls of fat than person, with a dingleberry perched between my lips. “But, but—I’m a girl!” I stammered, unsure how, but ready to protest the past. “Still good for you. Toughens you up.” After raising five children, my father’s eyes were steady and confident in the face of my spluttering disbelief. In high school I interpreted this response as nonsense, an excuse for bad parenting. But now that I have watched my parent’s skin loosen and fold with use I see that they raised each of us with our very own fiery independence. I still feel my ghostly dingleberry moving beneath my skin, behind my kneecaps, sliding back to the pit of my stomach it calls home. The woman who swallowed the staple told me it holds her together. I asked if it hurts and she said yes, of course, but at least I’m whole. I press my own sharpness close to my heart and feel the edges ready to cripple me if I let them. But the pain is too bearable, almost enjoyable in its familiarity. I sit with it every day and let it scrape my insides gently, gently, my body mending these wounds into my thick, fleshy scars I can feel but never see.
Izzy Hill Washington University in St. Louis, ’21
Tipping Point To look at someone so lovingly Across the table – mahogany borders My dilated pupils, too wide Forgetting nuance, manners Bread knife, drink glass Clink… “please pass” Twenty minutes go by and we’re Still hovering over the surface So, I switch to archeology Dig deeper There has to be something more Than a dirt manicure I try using my shovel I try throwing it down Conversation ricochets off Bedrock In frustration, I pull up the lined paper skin of my forehead And I’m reminded of my mother who reminds me to smother night cream on premature wrinkles …next course… I look across again at the blankness beneath ruffled brows and slowly
His face begins crumbling off Old pie crust Shifting tectonic plates The unkept earth falling onto the table we share Magma seeping through his pores Cooled glops of igneous rock splashing into my coffee cup Shattered glass, dirt pressed pebbles, concrete chunks, exposed wires Bits of rubble flew and were caught Cradled by the lace of my brassiere The black trim peeking out more than my mother would’ve warranted She starts an internal fight, ending in “You’re always right” And so, I sit silent empty and wrongfully shamed in front of the barren faced man, he asks me to split the check.
Eleni Kokinos Washington University in St. Louis, ’21
New Exhibitions Tuesdays were slow at the gallery. Every day was slow, but Tuesdays were the worst. So slow, in fact, that some time ago Angie started a drinking game wherein she took a shot of Grey Goose every time someone walked through the door. She was usually sober until closing. That Tuesday happened to be cleaning day. Angie was supposed to stroll around the gallery and dust off the frames on the artwork. Only, nothing had frames anymore. There was a video in the main room playing a loop of a doctor squeezing a bloody heart to the beat of Little Drummer Boy. No frame there. In another room stood a half empty coffee pot on a pedestal. The week before a visitor had been fined and arrested for trying to pour himself a cup of joe. So instead of cleaning, Angie sat at the front desk, watching her breath turn into clouds of cold air, and then trying to suck it back in. When that exercise became too monotonous, she grabbed a pen from her bag and began lightly stabbing herself in the palm. Angie had just drawn blood when the door to the gallery creaked open. In the entryway stood a dirty, stout man with a peg leg and bald head. The peg-legged man carried a portfolio under his arm, brimming with torn papers and yellowed canvases. Peg-leg hobbled up to Angie’s desk, leaving behind a path of muddy footprints, and muddy peg prints. “I have art for your gallery,” said Peg-leg. Peg-leg pulled a painting out of his portfolio. It was, in Angie’s opinion, one of the ugliest pieces of artwork ever to have been brought into the gallery. In fact, Angie hesitated to even refer to it as art. Ghastly yellow paint streaked across the canvas, sometimes intersecting with streaks of equally unattractive pink. Obnoxious green specks dotted the surface. Each element bumped and crashed into each other, creating a symphony of unpleasantness. “Interesting,” said Angie, as she stared at the piece. “So you’ll take it?” Peg-leg asked. “Well, it’s not the galleries policy to take submissions off the streets. Maybe if you had an agent…” “I don’t need an agent. I’m an artist! Can’t you have your jury look at my portfolio?” “Again, that’s not how it works. And anyways, I don’t think your art fits in with the image of our gallery,” Angie lingered on the word “art,” her cadence barely masking her disdain. “Why not? My art isn’t good enough for you?! I’ve been painting since before you
were born! I put my heart and soul into each brushstroke!” Peg-leg was getting riled up now. “I’ve studied Van Gogh, and Picasso, and Matisse, and Gauguin, AND—-“ Peg-leg stopped suddenly. He staggered backwards, clutching his heart. Pegleg lost his balance and crashed to the ground, the contents of his bulging portfolio spilling out across the shiny gallery floor. He clawed at his throat and let out a most wretched cry. Angie rushed out from behind her desk and knelt before the spasming man. Peg-leg, his eyes wide and frightful, clutched Angie’s blazer and whispered, “Rothko,” before exhaling one final time. Angie stood up, dumbfounded. There was a dead man on the floor, and it was barely eleven o’clock in the morning. Panicked, she called an ambulance, and then her boss, Patty. Not twenty minutes after the call was placed, both Patty and the EMTs rushed into the gallery. Patty stared at Peg-leg’s limp body as he was carted away by the coroner. She then began pacing around the room, excitedly running her hands through her feathered hair. “And he just died, right here? Right now?” Patty asked, licking her lips. “Yeah,” Angie replied. Patty bent down and gingerly picked up one of Peg-leg’s pieces, holding the canvas between two pinched fingers, as to avoid directly touching such an unattractive painting. “Geez, that’s fucking ugly,” Patty mused. Angie nodded in agreement. “But it doesn’t matter. This is perfect!” Patty exclaimed. “I’m sorry?” Angie was confused. “I mean this is totally perfect!” Patty clapped her hands together. “We can sell this. A tortured artists visits our gallery, and with his dying breath, gives us his life’s work? And then he dies here, surrounded by the bones of his unfortunate past? That is art. Call every press outlet you know, every gallery owner. Call everyone.” There was a brief pause. “Oh, and find out who he was. We might need to buy out a few relatives for the right to exhibit his work.” “We’re gonna display his work? Seriously?” Angie asked, incredulous. She looked over at Patty for a response, but the boss was deep in thought with her eyes closed. “I can see the exhibition already. A Life Undone. That’s what we’ll call it.” As she spoke, Patty spread her hands in the air, as if she were imagining the title in bright broadway lights. The family issue, it turned out, was not an issue at all. After extensive research, Angie was unable to find a single member of Peg-leg’s clan. Peg-leg’s real name was
Henry. But Patty decided to rechristen him Peg-leg, which according to her, was “more mysterious and edgy.” Angie, always an efficient worker, amassed a media list of contacts before the day was out. By the end of the week, she and Patty had contacted every reporter, every artist, and every hip-looking stoner student within a 30 mile radius. Almost every person they reached out to with an opening night invitation RSVP’d within minutes. The return rate was astounding. The reception for the exhibit was a success. Patrons arrived from every corner of the county to admire and pay homage to Peg-leg’s work. Men in tailored suits and women with perfectly coiffed hair stood in circles and praised the artist’s bold use of colors and expressive painting style. A true talent, taken from us too soon, they sighed. It’s a shame to only have a handful of pieces. If only he had more time… Employees were now given index cards with highlights and fun facts about PegLeg’s life to be dutifully read from during tours. Within three weeks, every piece of art been sold for an exorbitant price. There was more money flowing into the gallery than Patty knew what to do with. For a while, everyone existed in pure commercial bliss. But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And so it was that after all the paintings had sold and the glitterati of the city retreated back to their penthouse apartments to await the next artistic revelation, Patty and Angie found themselves in need of a new source of revenue. Wanting to recreate the success of their last exhibition, they decided to allow open submissions. Floods of artists from all over the area came, hoping to finally break into a lucrative and selective art scene. The first few submitters tried to replicate Peg-Leg’s success, by succumbing to heart attacks on the gallery floor. Patty was supremely disappointed when she discovered that the heart attacks were faked, and not in fact fatal. Later applicants resorted to swallowing pills that induced cardiac arrest right before their portfolio critique. “Are they going to put any effort into this? Where’s the originality? Where’s the passion?” Patty asked one day as security guards dragged off the latest copycat. “I need something new.” One artist, Jean van Kemper, submitted a beautiful portfolio filled with sweeping landscapes, delicate portraits, and paintings created in a style similar to that of the Old Masters. Angie lobbied hard for Jean, who she thought to be a singularly talented man. But Patty had waved aside her employee’s opinions, stating vaguely that Jean lacked a certain “je ne sais quoi.” So did Alicia Jackson, an aspiring artist with African
collages. Or Brenda Bergsen, who made large scale sculptures of bleeding vulvas. Too vulgar for the gallery, apparently. After weeks searching for a worthy successor, one finally presented himself. Carl Fincher, a 34 year-old DJ living in Brooklyn, sauntered into the gallery one sunny morning. “Hi, my name is Carl, and this is my art,” he said. He brought out three paintings, each worse than the next. Carl was clearly trying to make a political statement with his work, but any observer would be hard-pressed to figure out what that statement was. “Oh god,” Angie thought, “this is worse than Peg-Leg.” But Carl wasn’t done. Slowly he produced a long sharp dagger from beneath his coat, and before anyone could react, plunged it into his stomach. Carl’s moans echoed off white walls and reverberated around the room. With a thud, he fell to the floor, thick glossy blood seeping out from the open wound on his stomach like the fingers of an outstretched hand. Everything was still. “Bravo!” exclaimed Patty. “Brah-voh.” She clapped her hands together twice, tears brimming in her eyes. “Everyone else was boring.” Patty explained. “They were just following the example set by our last artist. And even Peg-Leg, he didn’t mean to die on purpose. But Carl? Oh sweet, wonderful Carl. He came here to sacrifice himself on the altar of high-brow culture. It was if he said to us “Here, take my mortal body, for my soul has ascended to a state of higher being.” Angie moved to clean up the blood, but Patty stopped her. “Don’t,” she said. “Let’s leave it here as part of the exhibit.” The following week an opening night reception was held. The elite once more descended from their ivory tours to marvel at the astonishing work of this dedicated dreamer. Mile-high Louboutin heels gingerly stepped around the pool of dried blood on their way to the viewing areas. Angie walked through the gallery and stopped in front of a large oil painting in the back room. In it, a bald eagle being stabbed through the heart against the backdrop of the American flag, with the words “END PLASTIC STRAWS” in bold behind the bird. “Don’t you just love this piece?”
Angie turned around to see a short, bald man in square glasses holding a champagne flute. “It’s simply amazing how he equates the state of our decrepit democracy with the brutalization of farm animals in California, while also tying in our futile attempts to end voter disenfranchisement.” He continued, “His juxtaposition of symbolism truly adds to our national discourse, does it not?” Angie nodded slightly, grabbed the drink out of the man’s hand, downed it, and scurried off to the bathroom. Unfortunately, the show couldn’t last forever. Other Carl impersonators soon followed and failed to impress Patty’s one-woman committee. Angie’s job now involved mopping up the sticky remains of each applicant. Her record mopping time was 15 seconds, but in that case the woman she cleaned up after had failed to hit a major artery and, therefore, didn’t leak as much as the others. Still, Angie thought of it as a personal victory. Day after day, week after week, month after month, Angie’s life went on in a similar manner. Judge, mop, rinse, repeat. Until, of course, self-sacrificing lost its appeal. Next came the self-immolators. Judge, sweep, rinse, repeat. Then the group that wore their art, and lived in the gallery for the duration of their show. Next, the demolitioners, who broke down the gallery walls in the name of culture. Next, next, next. Always on to the next big thing. As time went on, Angie began to feel like the entire process was arbitrary, as great artists were shown the door and middling ones were shown a contract. Yet she soldiered on, feebly voicing her opinions occasionally, but trusting the bulk of the decision making to Patty, who after all had a degree in printmaking from RISD. Mindless and half-drunk (she had of course restocked her Grey Goose after the reception), Angie wasted away at the gallery, fooling herself into thinking she wasn’t cultured enough to recognize artistic genius. She ran into Jean van Kemper on the street once. He had given up on his dreams of being an artist, and instead took a job at a local coffee shop. So much for passion. Judge, mop, rinse, repeat. Judge, mop, rinse, repeat. And so the wheel of mediocrity spins on, built by the powerful, propped up by the mangled bodies of creative types, and enabled by those who eagerly accept the opinions of others.
Lily Dolin New York University, ’19
Kelly Wu (Tsae Yung Wu) Pratt Institute, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;22 Watercolor on illustration board
Amy Chen Washington University in St. Louis, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;19 Oil, gesso, and watercolor on canvas and mylar
Reverse Genocide In Response to Reverse Suicide by Matt Rasmussen Falling fruit returned to the banana trees, where bullets and revolution fit so neatly in the buds, where solitary bees flee the flowers. The tree shrank into the soil, bark disappearing into the cavernous darkness. Roots, once brushing the ceiling of the underworld itself—Angka, Pol Pot’s great unknown—rose, snaking between the gaps of tibias and ribs. The seed condensed into itself, tiny and insignificant. From it, the soil was thrown upward and shovels caught it in midair, scooping it into mounds. One by one, the earth unveiled its calcium treasures. The soil, once stained Khmer Rouge, healed the abandoned bones. Shreds of fabric restitched into collared shirts and buttoned dresses, capitalist symbols of evil. Bodies of adults and children tumbled towards the sky; their bodies kneeled at the edge of the hole, awaiting their completion. Abandon normal instruments of terror: blades of shovels and hoes pried themselves from their skulls, healing the fracture. By the hundreds, streams of family flew upward, kneeling to be blessed, then standing and walking backwards. The tears flowed into their eyes, leaving their faces dry. One by one, the shovels healed the babies and brought them to life. As time ebbs and flows, if one gazes into the bomb craters the farmers use as reservoirs, one can still see the faintest glimmer of a tooth. The phosphorus greens the scorched landscape, contorting around the unexploded ordnance. Even mountain flowers can only be nurtured by the buried for so long. Cascades of bullet casings and shells will turn to dust, and from them, springs of water will flow like napalm.
A.J. Takata Washington University in St. Louis, ’22,
Jenny Lee Carnegie Mellon University, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Ink, pen, graphite, and marker
Where is My True Paradise? Jenny Lee Carnegie Mellon University, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Oil on Canvas
This publication was designed by Madeline Partner and Isabelle Celentano; set into type digitally at Washington University in St. Louis; and printed and bound at Bookmobile Craft Digital, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The type face is Adobe Caslon Pro, designed by Carol Twombly. Caslon was originally designed by William Caslon. Spires accepts submissions from undergraduate students around the world. Works were evaluated individually and anonymously. Spires is published biannually and distributed free of charge to the Washington University community at the end of each semester. All undergraduate art, poetry, prose, drama, song lyric, and digital media submissions (including video and sound art) are welcome for evaluation. Special thanks to Washington University Student Union; Bookmobile Craft Digital; and the authors, poets, and artists who submitted. For more creative content including new media, video, and digital artwork, visit our website.
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Catherine Webb Yale, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22 Digital photography