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As always, Tea Literary Magazine would not be here without the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Council. Our organization would like to thank CLAS and Student Government for continuing to back us. Its professors, student leaders, and staff have provided us with unyielding and simply would not be able to do what we love. We would like to thank Broken SheLveS and WiLd iriS BookS, both local bookstores that have supported Tea, hosted its release parties, and stocked copies of past issues. We hope that these establishments remain friends of Tea and Tea is also grateful to the Honors Program for providing us with the means to reach a wider audience. The Honors Program is committed to promoting the Humanities and the Arts here at the University of Florida, and their continued faith is encouraging. Special thanks are due to Jiayuan Shen, an artist featured not only within the magazine, but also on its cover design. Her work so inspired the editors and reviewers of Tea that we had to showcase it both inside and out. Elements of her work both inspired and provided material for the graphic design of the magazine. Finally, thank you to all of the artists who submitted this year and all those that support and nurture art on campus.


Editor-in-Chief samantha thilÊn Co-Editor kimberly kemler Executive Poetry Editor cydnee devereaux Executive Prose Editor daniel duffy Executive Design Editor steven libby Business Director kathleen o’leary Poetry Editors claudia conger nicolas casanas andrew cushen Prose Editors victoria villanti rachel behrmann olivia isaacs Additional Reviewers lani yu matt purcell rachel behrmann victoria reynolds




Dear Reader, As I sit before a blank Word document, deciding what to write to capture the whatness of Tea, I say to myself, “This is frightening.” It’s frightening because

starting point. Literature, which Tea medium to make sense out of thought and nonsense. The young writers and of the thinker, we readers and viewers can never fully name or know. What can link our understanding to their sense—us to them—is not only the printed matter of the magazine itself, but interest: the state of wanting to know. The late Middle English interesse (also intresse, intersse, enteresse, and entres) was a word borrowed from Anglo-Norman French, which derives, as medieval interesse ‘to be.’ To be interested is literally to be located in between: between oneself and some other. Middle is the condition of readers and writers, viewers and artists. We could talk of escapism or “dirtying the page,” but the effect and action of literature are still more complicated. We go between when, interested, we read and look, shedding an aspect of ourselves to slip into the form of someone else’s sense. We go between when interest compels us to write and create, our chosen medium shaping thought—that internal aspect of ourselves—into sense for someone “Nothing is easy when you might come apart in the middle at any moment.” —tove JanSSon, The Summer Book publication of Volume XVII of Tea has been a study in holding things together— staff, contributors, myself. I write this on April 29, 2015, days before the PDF goes to print and binding and the rest of us to graduation or summer’s parting. We know that end of term nearly halves the calendar year, articulating before I ever needed to that sometimes endings are just the beginnings of a middle. Yours in the middle, SaMantha thiLén Editor-in-Chief


Each year, Tea Literary Magazine bases its content on impartial votes by the various committees of our editorial staff. The magazine is entirely studentproduced and any undergraduate student attending UF can participate in the selection process. All submissions are emailed directly to the Editor-in-Chief of Tea. Reviews are conducted by individual visual art, poetry, and prose committees. The staff meets weekly and, during these meetings, works are displayed with meetings views each work. Only the Editor-in-Chief knows the identity of those instance of a tie. IN this way, each work is selected anonymously. Those present discuss the integrity, mechanics, and technique of the submissions. Keeping this in mind, the committees vote on whether each piece moves on for further review. If a majority agrees that a work deserves more

committees rate each piece with a numerical value. The highest averaging works are slated for publication. Only after the total selection is determined for each category are the identities of their creators revealed. Because of the anonymity we afford our submitters, staff members are permitted to submit to the magazine. We do not, in any form, give preferential treatment to any poetry, prose, or work of visual art submitted by staff members. Tea has spent more than a decade perfecting our review process and we take it very seriously. The result is a magazine that represents the best work produced by our student body as a whole. Those interested in being published in Volume XVIII of Tea should succeeding Editor-in-Chief, at We look forward to your submission.




Four years ago, an anonymous donor endowed Tea with the means to reward one undergraduate writer a year with commendations and the Palmetto these yearly winners. Amy Hempel, who has authored four collections of stories and whose Harper’s, Tin House, Subtropics, Vanity Fair, and kind enough to select our 2015 winner. This year, the winner of the Palmetto Prize is Ciara Lepanto for her short story, “Gus and His People.” Of Lepanto’s story, Hempel writes: never mentioned directly. Indirection carries the story—the clues just right—and ends up being stronger than if the author had written of leg mobilizes the remaining family on its own terms, and works in an on emotion. As a recognition of her innovative use of perspective, perception, and voice, Ciara Lepanto’s name will join those of past winners John Moran, Danny of Turlington for years to come.


As of Fall 2014, Dr. Mark Law is the new Director of the UF Honors Program and has in good spirit agreed to the continuation of the Blackbird Poetry Prize. The Blackbird Poetry Prize is sponsored by the UF Honors Program with funds provided by the Wentworth Scholarship Fund thanks originally to the advocacy of Dr. Kevin Knudson, Professor of Mathematics and former Director of the UF Honors Program. Dr. Knudson is an “occasional” poet—a professional mathematician with a confessed “lifelong interest in writing and reading poetry.” In 2012, the prize’s inaugural year, Dr. Knudson named it for one of his own favorite poems, Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” This year’s winner is Ethan R. Teigland for his poem, “Sunday School,” School” is a thoughtful treatment of current events that quietly, insistently challenges not only the reader, but the conventions of poetry itself. The measured simplicity of Teigland’s writing remind us at Tea of the eighth stanza of the prize’s namesake: I know noble accents And lucid, inescapable rhythms; But I know, too, That the blackbird is involved In what I know. The genius of poetry is that it can be sublime when it wants, and subtle when it needs. With a lovely ear and a haunting, light touch, Teigland employs devices and a vocabulary native to the world of his poem, knowing that it needs nothing else.



CONTENTS Sunday School 1 ethan r. teigland

FingerlingS 2 kimberly kemler

Defy GravitY 3 bianca favata

Gus and His People 5 ciara lepanto

DjembE 8 cydnee devereaux

Sandrock 9 zoe green

A Rendezvous witH THE GHOST OF Van Buren 10 jordan a. zeldin

UNTITLED (2012) 11 jiayuan shen

Apostrophe 12 lani yu

SIREN 13 megan kean

Heater 14 john shea

Still Life of Assorted Objects 15 kelsey hackett

Dinner at the QureshiS' 16 kimberly kemler

Cross Section of HeaD 20 emma roulette

Lady of Grace 22 isabelle desendi

Trifecta 23 lianna zaragoza

Poems about Estuaries 24 cydnee devereaux

UNTITLED 25 jiayuan shen

UNTITLED (2015) 26 jiayuan shen






UNTITLED (2013) + ARTIST STATEMENT 27 jiayuan shen

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, Bernini 29 kimberly kemler

Stolen Sense of Humor 30 rachel cardona

West Coast Cooking 32 john shea

UNTITLED (2013) 33 jiayuan shen

MESSAGES TO THE SHEEP 34 jordan a. zeldin

The Subtle Things 35 nicole serrano

En Chinendega, 2010 36 amber paez

WomAn Dancing 37 kelsey hackett


Honey Graham 41 tristan worthington

CiTrus Blossoms 44 kimberly kemler

THE Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters 45 lianna zaragoza

SUNDAY SCHOOL ethan r. teigland

I read about this in the history books: the way bodies will huddle close. Palms suspend in the air as they might in church—to praise God’s name— here on the streets of St. Louis. The chapel’s organ couldn’t be heard over the voices, those voices, how they pulse through me like a beating drum. Police car lights add blush to 23rd Street. The pavement is off-white, powdered by tear gas. This could be a scene from Chagall’s dreams. A lamppost has met the sidewalk near FerguSon Market & Liquor. Home must be close by. It seems the crowds have swallowed up our town, I reach my front door, enter my Noah’s Ark. On the counter sits a digital clock. In the living room, a color TV. In the backyard, an olive tree sways eighteen branches for eighteen candles.



FINGLERLINGS kimberly kemler

My earliest memories begin along the coast, caught in the arches of mangrove roots, the dissonance of gulls. Moving was a mattress tied to my car’s roof, After seven months away from Florida I began to dream of estuaries: my sisters wading barefoot, holding horseshoe crabs in their small palms, brackish water stirring the manatee grass. At twelve, I held my hand beneath the water’s surface until it was circled they scattered, scared by the sudden lack— like my sisters and me In the morning, I will email my mother another Whitman poem. She will ask me again what he means when he says all goes onward and outward. I will tell her again that I am still not sure.

DEFY GRAVITY bianca favata digital photography



GUS AND HIS PEOPLE ciara lepanto

Gus, a chunky, middle-aged Bullmastiff, is desperately trying to get comfortable. He is having a hard time because his left hind leg was recently removed and life as an amputee hasn’t sunk in yet. His prime years were cut short by an aggressive cancer in his femur and, after a round of chemotherapy and a handful of appointments with the local hypnotherapist, his people decided it was time to cut the thing off entirely. Lying in the middle of the living room, before sprawling in defeat. On one side of the living room, Mr. Kenny sits in a weathered armchair. He holds a magazine full of vegan recipes with one hand and runs the other through his hair, which is brittle and sticks up in all the wrong places. His magazine is vegan because his daughter, Beni, became one seven months ago and he is trying to reconnect. Mr. Kenny peers over the article about lentils, trying to catch his daughter’s eye. Across the room, Beni leans against the base of the couch reading As I Lay Dying. Beni sees her father trying to reconnect and stares hard at the same sentence until he turns away. “Should we try one of these?” Mr. Kenny points to a page featuring seasoned beans and vegetables. Beni looks up from her book. She just read the “Not hungry,” she says. As he looks back down at the magazine, she contracts her muscles to quiet a deep growl in the base of her stomach. “How about roasted spaghetti squash?” Mr. Kenny thinks he has hit the jackpot with this one because Beni used to love squash as a toddler. He remembers that most of it ended up in her wispy bangs and wonders if maybe that’s why she had such soft hair. “It makes me gag,” she says. Mr. Kenny sets the magazine down and runs both hands through his hair. Gus barks, not because he knows that they are talking about food, but because he hasn’t reminded them of his presence in a while. Beni has been trying to get her friends and teachers to call her BK for the last few months. She writes BK inside her book covers and on her assignments. attempt to cope. Mr. Kenny catches on quicker than most and does so without her prompting, but this just makes her resentful. “What do you want, BK? I’m running out of ideas.” Mr. Kenny’s hair is standing straight up and his hands are tired. but he can’t make it out.



in the middle, making him that much more appealing. Dream-Vlad leads Gus no fences and the grass is softer. Dream-Gus has all of his legs but he still can’t manage to get his jaws around Dream-Vlad’s bushy tail. In real life, Gus’s front paws mimic the motions of running while his stump twitches in an unsettling way until his whole body is still again.

she remembers leaving cool puddles of her own drool on clean sheets and couch cushions when she was younger. Beni closes her eyes and massages her scalp, Mr. Kenny notices that his daughter is not hiding behind her book. He follows her gaze and sees the dog sleeping in his own drool. Smiling to himself, Mr. Kenny remembers how his wife used to tease Beni whenever she drooled. She would search Beni for leaks, separating her toes and searching her scalp. He that meant she would let him in on it later. That night, between the love and the “Just to make sure she’s really scrubbing,” she would whisper as she

Gus wakes up and both of his people are looking at him. He shakes another on the corner of Mr. Kenny’s vegan magazine. Suddenly Gus feels an itch and gnaws on his front left paw. As most itches do, this one travels up his leg and settles behind his ear. He tries to scratch it but the itch is on his uneven side and what he has left can’t quite reach it. Beni watches Gus struggle to reach behind his ear and thinks back to her last few weeks, Beni’s mother spent a lot of time with Gus, bending over to scratch the spot behind his ears until his left leg twitched with pleasure and saying things about how much they had in common. In her mind, Beni sees the gap in her mother’s shirt that used to be so full. Beni presses her palm to her chest, in part to check for leaks and in part to hold herself together. Gus stands up and stretches. Front paws spread, lower half perched in the air, it’s the kind of deep, satisfying stretch that leaves you momentarily to move, setting her book on the ground and coming to his side. She checks nothing out of sorts. Gus looks up at her with his tongue hanging out and drool collecting in the corner of his mouth. Another hand appears on Gus’s body and Beni looks up to see her father checking his stump for the same sorts of things. Eventually they take turns scratching behind his ear and massaging his stump, and Gus’s uneven side shudders with pleasure. Beni and Mr. Kenny gently brace Gus’s quivering stump. They work together; she massages the meaty part of Gus’s upper thigh and he smooths over

with drool, seem to wave at them. Beni and Mr. Kenny look up at each other and know to leave the middle piece of Gus’s stump open for a third set of hands, ones

When Gus lifts his head up moments later, he sees his people on either squirrel, running through fenceless backyards. This time Gus is still uneven but he feels better, faster. As they weave in and out of patio sets, between manicured uneven side shudders with pleasure.



DJEMBE cydnee devereaux

September creeps like the passion out back. I recall a September many years ago, when you were reclaimed. I couldn’t bring myself to take your belongings, neatly sealed in an evidence bag—your wallet thick with crumbly-edged school photos from decades ago—it made no sense to claim your possessions without also claiming you. The doctor said he beat your heart like a djembe, like you used to beat mom, like I used to beat off the green vines that threatened to bury the strong, sturdy shed you built for us out back. In the years since, I have left the vines alone the same way you left us, and I watch them climb.

SANDROCK zoe green digital photography




My driver’s license photo looks like you, Martin Van Buren. I see you now: your drawbridge chin and aristocratic nose, your patriotic gaze framed by muttonchops!

than Jackson’s shadow. Did you concede too much in the Webster-Ashburn Treaty? Did speculative lending induce the Panic of 1837? Did you smile vengefully when Harrison died suddenly? I wish you’d been a Bacchus-type. It might have added to your image. Today, the government deals in weapons, And regulations don’t bar insurance conning; stealing food stamps is good politics. Everyone has been praying for your return.

UNTITLED (2012) jiayuan shen graphite, acrylic, and adhesive on paper




Slices of pink-frosted cake lie forgotten. The girls leave, stumbling along well-trimmed sidewalks until Lu falls down and vomits. The party had been unmistakably collegiate. Jin declined offers of alcohol, but watched Lu down cup after cup of rum and Coke. Their friend, the birthday girl, made eyes at her boyfriend, climbing into his lap. The guests just smirked, sprawling on the IKEA furniture. A loose-limbed stranger with coffee curls handed Lu a bottle of vodka. Laughing, pink-cheeked, she swayed forward to kiss him. Jin sees, while holding back Lu’s hair, half of a Powerball billboard just visible in the distance, the numbers obscured by trees. Lu is carried up the stairs to the dorm, where she curls like an apostrophe Outside the bathroom, Jin watches the sun rise ponderously over a blank horizon. She imagines Odysseus steadying himself for the long journey home.

SIREN megan kean ink on bristol board



HEATER john shea

Is a great hot-blooded animal waiting held for three long seasons, warming and warming; put away, somewhere else, on a high shelf or in the attic, where its every move is anticipated and well-worth-the-wait. the middle of earth’s broad gut and insulated is not to need it, is never to know its hurried irrigation, its bracing succor. It knocks the piano soundly strength; it soothes the hard convulsions of the limbs. It bends over the skin like unpeeling fruit, like a return to the womb.

STILL LIFE OF ASSORTED OBJECTS kelsey hackett graphite on paper



DINNER AT THE QURESHIS' kimberly kemler

Last week, when Deb asked me to go to dinner with the Qureshis—the Qureshis are students at the University where Deb works—when Deb asked me about going to dinner at the Qureshis, we were right in the middle of something. You know, like I had my hand on her leg, and when her hair fell in front of her eyes she didn’t even push it behind her ear like she usually does when she’s serious about something, so I didn’t think anything of it. After, as she was reclasping her bra and I was still untangling my jeans from the duvet, she said something like does Thursday work for you? and I didn’t even know what she was talking about anymore. I had, in the moment, completely forgotten about Siham and Abu Qureshi. And I don’t even do anything on Thursdays, and Deb knows that, so there was no way Thursday wouldn’t work for me. Deb knows that. That’s probably why she planned the dinner on a Thursday. I bet Siham asked something like what’s the best night for you? and Deb smiled, she’s always smiling at people, and she said, . Deb and I met in college when we were both in undergrad. I was studying geology at Boston College, she was studying philosophy at Emerson, and the South Boston Library was holding free painting classes in the evenings. Deb and I happened to share a palette. One day, the woman running the class told us to face our partner and paint whatever came to mind based on the colors she gave us. They were all oranges and browns and reds with a glob of bright teal. I painted the Boston skyline and used the teal for the harbor. I muted it with light beige. I thought it was pretty good, considering what we’d been given to work with. Deb, on the other hand, painted her entire canvas with thick teal and red streaks, the colors crisscrossing one another but never turning brown or being spoiled by too many strokes. When we moved to Michigan together, we hung them side-by-side over our kitchen table. “Remember, while we’re there, not to cross your legs, okay?” Deb said, pushing her hair behind her ear. “It’s impolite to show the sole of your shoe.” “Aren’t they in your graduate classes with other Americans? You’d think they’d have seen plenty of people’s shoes by now,” I said. Deb had been telling me stuff like that all day, about how I couldn’t use my left hand at the dinner table or try to shake Siham’s hand. I would probably end up doing all of those things anyway. Maybe I wouldn’t try to shake Siham’s hand, but I is uncomfortable, and how the hell do you eat with one hand? Her students wouldn’t even notice, probably, because they’d been in America for a year now, and they were philosophy students for God’s sake, so they knew all about cultural differences anyways. Siham answered the door when we got there, and she stuck out her hand when Deb introduced us, so I shook it and I wondered how Deb felt about that. Siham was a petite woman with long brown eyelashes and large brown eyes. She had a strong handshake for a woman who wasn’t supposed to be offered a handshake. Her husband, Abu, had high cheekbones and skinny arms.

Their house was decorated in dark purples and reds, and it smelled similar to our house. Probably because Siham had given Deb some nag champa incense over the holidays and Deb insisted on buying more from Amazon every time she ran out. She said it made the house smell more earthly. Siham invited us to sat, Siham crossed one of her legs over the other. I glanced at Deb, but she didn’t seem to notice. “I was reading that article, you know the one, by West and Zimmerman the other day,” Siham was saying, “and I realize now what you said about gender, about how it’s what you do, not what you are—you do it.” Deb was nodding. know, it becomes what she or he is, or what they are, it’s never what you’re doing, you know, it’s a binary—” “Right, I love that they call it, how did they call it? Omnirelevant, I think that’s what they said about gender—” “It’s a master status, you know,” Deb said. She loved talking about that. It was as if she was the only one who knew and that someday she could be the I understood the issue, and I really felt for her. She wanted to make the world a different place and really make people understand other people. But sometimes I couldn’t see the point of all the research she was doing, all the books she was writing. I mean, Deb was brilliant, wildly brilliant and a good, creative thinker, but she spent all her time researching these differences in the social lives of people. Sometimes I wondered what kind of scientist Deb would’ve been. She might’ve studied how to repair the ozone layer, or stem cell development, or something like that. She might’ve been really good at that. For dinner, Abu made lamb with mint and thyme. Za’atar, he taught me. Deb had taught me that word. It’s what people did when they wanted to create a bond with someone that wasn’t necessarily going to build into a friendship. It makes your acquaintances a little bit closer, she’d told me. So, when Abu asked me what I was doing in Michigan, I thought that’s what we were doing— building solidarity. I told him about the lake, about hydrogeology, about the table and all about what that meant in layman’s terms. “Basically,” I was saying, “it’s all about how you look at it.” I was telling him about the Coriolis effect when Siham and Deb went to make coffee in the something about the cultural difference. They weren’t talkative people. When Deb and Siham came into the sitting room, they were carrying two cups of coffee each. They were both laughing. best,” Deb was saying. the perspective of Lake Michigan and the inertial circles on the lake’s surface, but I didn’t mind. “Oh, we were just saying how Maria wanting to learn French is so belletristic—it’s just a fantasy, you know,” Deb said, “she doesn’t have any desire to speak to anyone in French, just to know the language, you know, she thinks it’s so romantic, but it’s so fetishized—” TEA


“She’ll never be conversational at that rate,” Abu was nodding now. “It’s just funny,” Siham said, “that all these progressive and intelligent women still have a romanticized view of something as instrumental as an entire language.” “Maybe she just really wants to learn French,” I said, looking at Abu. “Yes,” Deb said, “but what we’re saying is that the reason she wants to learn French stems from such a belletristic motivation—” “Or maybe, maybe she just really does want to learn French,” I said. Deb was always doing that, assigning meaning to why someone wanted to do something. She didn’t think anybody ever did anything on a whim. “That’s what she thinks—she thinks oh, I want to learn French, I think I’ll learn French—” Siham said. “—but we’re saying, you know, she probably only wants to learn French because of some idea of beauty, or of romance, and not because she’ll ever use—” Abu started to say, but he was cut off when I bumped the small, gold saucer and “I’m sorry,” I said, kneeling with a napkin to try to coerce the sinking stain back out of the carpet. I stayed there like that, dabbing the carpet, trying not to look at Deb. Deb hated accidents. She always thought there was meaning behind those, too. “Here, let me,” Siham said. She was carrying a tiny bowl of water and a lemon. I watched as she poured half the bowl over the carpet, then squeezed the lemon over it, and scrubbed it with a dishtowel. The coffee immediately soaked into the towel. “That’s amazing,” I said, looking at Siham. “Thank you,” she said. She wouldn’t look me directly in the eyes. “It’s was smiling, but he wasn’t looking me in the eyes either. When we got home that night, Deb walked straight into the kitchen. She didn’t even take off her shoes, which she normally does right inside the door. She started doing that when we had dinner with one of her students from China and his family. They taught her how, in their culture, removing your shoes reminds you that you are going from a public place to a private one. She liked that our house could be her private place. When she asked me to remove my shoes at the door, I did. At least for a while. But I was always forgetting—like if I really had to go to the bathroom or something or I was really hungry, and I didn’t have time to untie my shoes and take them off. She never got mad about it, she just sort of mumbled about how our house was supposed to be separate from the rest of the world. she was mad about me spilling the coffee. We had only stayed about ten more but more about the action of making a drink. Unlocking the liquor cabinet—Deb had insisted we buy a locking liquor cabinet, even though we don’t have any kids—and pulling out the lone bottle of gin gave Deb something to do while she waited for me to apologize. or sitting with her legs crossed at the table, sipping the drink she’d been making for something that was an accident. But she wasn’t in either of those places, and she wasn’t sipping anything. Deb was just standing there, right in the middle of the kitchen, staring at the two paintings from Boston that hung side-by-side

above the table. “When you knelt to clean the stain, both of the soles of your shoes were showing,” Deb said. “I told you so many times.” “Deb, I’m sorry,” I said, “I was only thinking about the stain—I didn’t want to ruin their carpet.” Deb didn’t look like she was thinking about the soles of my shoes or how it made the Qureshis feel. She looked like she was thinking about the Boston Harbor or whatever she’d painted into those teal and red streaks. “Besides,” I began, “Siham—” “Siham and Abu are graceful people,” Deb interrupted. “They understand that their culture is different . . . but both soles? It was like a slap in the face.” “I’m sorry,” I said. Deb was quiet for a minute. I walked over to where she was standing and pushed her hair behind her ear. She wouldn’t look me in the eyes. She was staring past me, at the wall, at the paintings above the table, so I wrapped my arms around her. “They don’t really look right there,” Deb said after a while. “Or maybe they just don’t look right together. They’re two completely different styles, you know.” “That’s what we like about them, remember?” I said. Deb had brought her master’s program. Back then, we were both living in my apartment in east Boston, and the paintings were hung above my couch. When I told her I was moving, and that I thought she should join me, she was lying in my lap, staring at the paintings. She said she wasn’t sure her painting would make sense outside of Boston. Deb was a lot more cryptic back then. I convinced her to move, though, when I found the website for the philosophy program at the University of Michigan. “I don’t know,” Deb said. She wasn’t even looking at both paintings any out what made her paint them that way. I wonder if she was thinking about the apartment in Boston, and what would’ve happened if I hadn’t convinced her to get her Ph.D. Sometimes, I wonder if Deb felt guilty about the years she spent in school while I worked at the Lake. I always told her not to, because I wanted her there with me and it didn’t make sense for her to be there if she wasn’t doing something. So that’s just what she was doing, she was at the University, and I was mapping the Lake. That’s just what we were doing, but we were doing it together. But sometimes Deb would say we were growing apart. That she had made friends at the University, and that she was learning about herself, and her social and cultural identity, and that was why she always wanted me to read the articles she was studying. She said the articles changed the way she thought about herself, and she wanted me to read them, too, just to see if I felt the same way. “I’ll call Siham in the morning and apologize,” Deb said, sitting in one of the kitchen chairs. She wasn’t staring at the paintings anymore. “Okay,” I said. “Here,” I untied one, then both of her shoes, then both of pushed her hair behind her ear.



CROSS SECTION OF HEAD emma roulette micron pen on bristol board



LADY OF GRACE isabelle desendi

Consider Brunelleschi’s churches-ornate as the Duomo’s sagrato, the Gothic grace of columns and apsidal chapels overwhelming the rotunda of Santa Maria degli Angeli, its incomplete roof tarped over with a wooden shell. I imagine Monaco completing The Coronation of the Virgin in the dark weight of Florentine dusk-seraphic, mute. Though the diminishing light cast its harsh, roseate blush against the stones of the sidewalk, I did not feel alone until the silence reminded me of my mother’s terrible illness. I moved through the nave until I stood at the feet of the Virgin Mary. but ordinarily divine. In the clandestine temple of the church whose name I did not yet know, she reached down with marble hands. I called out to her, or God, or someone, with a broken Alleluia.

TRIFECTA lianna zaragoza etching



POEMS ABOUT ESTUARIES cydnee devereaux

For months, she wrote only of estuaries, which is how I knew she was thinking of leaving. It was February when she began packing her belongings— a sweater, her collection of dried leaves— pieces of her vanishing, like she would if she stayed. I don’t remember at what point I began to help—folding her mother’s linens into the bag she stowed in our closet. I thought maybe I could stow myself away, too—snuggled in beside her encyclopedia of trees, her rejection letters from New England Review, her wool socks, which had begun to unravel at the toes. I thought maybe I had begun to unravel, too. One day, I came home to stillness, and a book on estuarial wading birds perched atop my ironing board, K.

UNTITLED jiayuan shen graphite on paper



Artist Statement jiayuan shen

When something important is going to happen, I panic, get frustrated, and my body starts to wander around. In tandem, my mind is also thinking and circulating through this physical movement, in order to process the movement of searching, reviewing, and anticipating. predicting and preparing for different consequences. The heaviness and pressure

pressure, the struggle of fear, and the rising thirst of surviving as human nature.

above UNTITLED (2013) graphite on paper

opposite UNTITLED (2015) + close ups graphite on paper

appearing on cover UNTITLED (2014) graphite on paper



The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, Bernini kimberly kemler

If you walk down via XX Setembre, you might miss the blank-slated sidewall, the pyramidal steps, not quite suggesting Santa Maria della Vittoria’s collection of aediculae. Inside, caryatids hold up the organ and the light let in by the oriel window blues their marbled skin, displaying them lifeless against the balcony’s gilded molding. You’ll see her there, in the angel’s arms: robes folded into a cloud, lit white by a hidden window; her closed eyes; her parted lips—as if the marble itself could speak the inscription, could describe the spear inside her chest, or the sweetness, or the pain. From the walls, the Cornaro family as if they too are admirers of Bernini’s work. I imagine myself between them, hearing

their thoughts of hell surfacing versus my own thoughts of curled toes, of parted lips— no putti watched from the ceiling, no Cornaros whispered, and no God appeared. Instead, only natural light and softened the sheets.



A STOLEN SENSE OF HUMOR rachel cardona

She found Jameson’s sense of humor on the ground just outside the 42nd with aching feet and hot tea, when she noticed it. Jameson’s sense of humor lay there, discarded, among all the other assorted bits of life casually tossed aside by commuters each day. Wedged half underneath an empty pack of spearmint gum, the small package weakly pulsed the mottled green and yellow of an old bruise, the same off-color of Jameson’s remarks on immigrants and women. She instantly knew it was his. How often had she heard those same “jokes” in the break room, a false smile pasted on her face? Lori picked it up, dusted it off, and

was so much nicer without Jameson’s rude jokes. She was able to get coffee from the break room without a single comment on the size of her ass. Her coworkers Sarabeth and Emilie remarked on the surprising change with pleasure. Lori even got a laugh out of them over a joke she made about the new Eastern European Jameson’s infamous sense of humor. But for some reason, she kept the tiny object in her purse. Jameson grew quiet and Lori’s popularity increased. It started out with a few comments about the secretary, but grew into loud jokes about the Hispanic janitors, the Jewish intern, and even a few coworkers. Sure, Lori felt a bit guilty, but it was all in jest and, after all, no one really got hurt. She had never received One day, Lori walked in on Emilie comforting a crying Sarabeth in the bathroom. “What’s wrong?” Lori hurried over, already pulling out tissues. She was shocked; normally she was the one Sarabeth turned to. “How can you even ask that?” Emilie stood, furious. “You’re the one who did this to her!” “What? What did I do? I would never do anything to hurt Sarabeth.” “Oh really? So I guess it must have been someone else who told Richard that someone needed to cut back on the cake.” “It was just a joke. I didn’t mean anything by it! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Sarabeth.” “Maybe you should just leave. Neither of us wants to see you right now.” Lori stands at her door, fumbling for her keys. Her purse falls, the contents spilling at the threshold. Amid the mess is Jameson’s sense of humor. Did it always glow so brightly? Lori remembers it being more…muted. No. She shoves the rest of her belongings back into her bag and runs inside to the kitchen, returning

with tongs to pick it up. Lori gently sets Jameson’s sense of humor on an old towel, folding the edges to cover it. She raises her foot. A satisfying crunch. She stomps again and again, grinding her heel into the towel until only colorless dust remains. Lori carefully gathers the towel, seals it in a plastic bag—then another, just to be sure. She takes the remains directly to the dumpster.




On the stove the rice rolls steadily on. run in by the setting California sun. As she works, quiet Abby tries to hum to the electric riot. The last light fades, and on the stove the rice rolls steadily on. The knife-tap of steel on wood is gone— we are water-logged, star-struck, dazed— done in by the setting California sun. On the table, oranges soak in amber rum. Scent of lemon and cilantro pervades, and on the stove the rice rolls steadily on. The mood is somber, the packing done. Our blue smoke climbs to join the haze, run in by the setting California sun. Overhead a far-off engine whines and thrums; whitecaps drum the weathered rocks, unfazed. On the stove the rice rolls steadily on— we’re done in by the setting California sun

UNTITLED (2013) jiayuan shen graphite and acrylic on paper also featured on title page



MESSAGES TO THE SHEEP jordan a. zeldin

Break his crooked staff. Tarnish his gilded glory As he did the golden calf. He has the outstretched arm, But you, a hammer in your hand. Don’t be the butcher’s income. Let labor rule the land. II. Asimov to the Sheep A hydroelectric dam has been wedged in far cliffs where polymer engineers make handkerchiefs And a telescope absorbs a sky replete With constellations and spaceships. Beyond the mountain pass grow beets and yams. Escape to cattails, rye, and wheat. See if the cliché is true. This valley’s darkness renders reason obsolete. III. Nietzsche to the Sheep Tsunamis will surge in the East And soldiers will rage indiscreetly And the child will break the plate again And you’ll wake up with a neckache And the ready-made lasagna will be too pricy. You’ll return stacks of unread books to the library, And wonder why you hoard your parents’ knick-knacks, Why you always ignore your alarm, Wasting mornings as though they will always come. You are more human than God could ever dream.

THE SUBTLE THINGS nicole serrano oil and acrylic on illustration board



En Chinendega, 2010 amber paez

My family and I traveled three thousand miles to my grandfather’s childhood pueblo. We tipped airport workers and fed a homeless man The highway was broken concrete slabs hung from the backs of madres and abuelas as they hoed the land. Their noses burnt and their babies cried. “Before, the Sandinistas, farmers could give more to their children,” my grandfather said, from the front seat. children waited at stop signs in school uniforms. “Por favor,” cried the children as they swarmed the car with hands up to catch córdobas. Their parents stood in the doorways, counting coins in the children’s palms.

WOMAN DANCING kelsey hackett charcoal on paper




I’m the real person from Porlock— And the rest. I am history’s true guide. Oh, the intentions.... It was to be The Great Cube of Giza before me! The Chinese meant to make a Great House Before me! I am the uneven path greatness Stumbles down. When I passed through France, I used Fermat’s last piece of paper As a napkin. Without me, Mount Rushmore Would have two too many faces and the Tower For I stand atop the hill of history, Meeting Sisyphus daily—



honey graham tristan worthington

I was there when the legendary drag queen went down, when she sank in the grand fashion of the Titanic. Zeb, my younger brother, had been in town over the long weekend, visiting from his boarding school in Massachusetts. On the second GRAHAM TO PERFORM AT THE SOVEREIGN THEATER.” can go to the Thirsty Camel and get a couple Yuenglings, but I don’t do drag. Pussy’s either real or it isn’t, and that ain’t real.” Zeb, who Mom always said was “a little light in the loafers,” looked ticked, as if I had told him that voting in the primaries was pointless. “Honey Graham is really well known on the east coast! She’s the most celebrated queen of drag from Charleston to Boston. I’ll never get another opportunity like this!” “Not even if the dude’s panties were made out of diamonds. No means no, Zeb.” My brother lapsed into a moody silence, which was typical of him at this angst-ridden age, and I knew the best thing to do was let him pout it out. He didn’t yield, though. “I’m giving you an old tomato,” Zeb announced after stewing for a few “You mean an ultimatum?” I set down the day-old copy of the Dallas Morning News I had picked up after work and pushed my black frames farther up my nose. Mom that you’re eating non-kosher hot dogs.” Zeb squinched his eyes at me in a I made an irritated tch in the back of my throat. My brother only folded his arms to show he meant business. I sighed. “What time’s it at?” Honey Graham struts out from behind the heavy red curtain. Two sequined corset that shimmers metallic-fuchsia beneath the bar’s lights. A guy I don’t know leans over and slurs in my ear, “That is one big bitch.” for the music to begin. I try to remind myself that this is not actually a woman, that there’s a man beneath that voluminous platinum wig. A sultry bat of her long eyelashes makes me forget. TEA


Someone raises a drink and howls, “You’re a queen, baby!” A throbbing tempo begins to shake the room and Honey Graham opens her lavender-lipsticked mouth, lip-syncing to a popular song whose refrain teases, “When you’re ready, come and get it!” she runs satin-gloved hands up and down the hills of her form. Her shoulders I glance at Zebediah and see that his gaze is riveted on her. He’s entranced by the performance. I nudge him with my shoulder and he beams at me, mouths the words so worth it. she reaches to caress an audience member’s chin. The chosen one gives an mouth with her teeth.

blue eye shadow. She prowls through the crowd, electrifying boners and burying But when she gets close enough, I can see a different face. She no She looks like a working woman, like a waitress trying to power through her third night shift. Sweat beads her forehead, drips down her upper lip in round droplets. She looks tired, mechanical. I feel a creeping guilt—in part because I have no spare cash to wave around like the rest—and I wonder what Honey Graham does during the day, when alcohol no longer sets the mood. Surely a collection of one-dollar tithes to gets traced on each night. Is she a drone bee by day, and the queen only by night? If she is a queen, right now she’s playing the jester in the court, performing for the peasants. Hands reach out and grope her breasts, drunken kisses haphazardly landing on her cheek. and strokes and takes the bills, but does not get to recline on a throne. She toils for the love of her people. She labors to lord over them. She is a monarch whose power stems from her ability to please and impress in the moment, and this makes me sad. Throughout her performance, a clean-shaven man in a button-up stands behind in the shadows. His muscled arms are crossed over his chest, his face alert but detached. He watches Honey Graham closely. He gauges the audience’s

The crowd whistles and stamps its feet for her. It hollers for an encore she walks out on her stilettos, and she grips the shoulder of a manly-looking woman standing nearby to steady herself. The hollering continues to crescendo,

When the ambulance came to take her away, it seemed too sterile. It wasn’t done right, wasn’t the way I imagined Honey Graham would have wanted to be wheeled out. She would have wanted the glory of royal funeral pyre. She would have wanted to be sprinkled with vodka instead of holy water and set ablaze on the wafer-thin stretcher that bore her now. With her brilliant blue eyelids closed, square inch of the cot. thought he was going to break down in tears. He didn’t though, and in the midst of the chaos he pulled a twenty out of his wallet, hastily folded it into a simple I felt relief. Finally Honey Graham could rest, could take a break and enjoy the fruit of her art. Finally she could lie on this throne, this pristine bed, a queen.



CITRUS BLOSSOMS kimberly kemler

Maybe that’s what the Medici were after—the blossoms’ gentle scent. Orange trees dot the Ponte Vecchio, the Ponte Trinita. The aphrodisiac wafts over the Arno, like perfume on the city’s wrists.




Profile for Tea Literary and Arts Magazine

Tea Volume 17  

Published in Spring 2015.

Tea Volume 17  

Published in Spring 2015.

Profile for tealitmag