the anthem. Spring 2019
Letter from the Editor “I can examine how, but not why, I wrote what I did, or why I had so perversely deviated from my original path. . . A few moments of self-interrogation forced me to acknowledge the strange remorse I felt following the writing of it. I wondered, since I had birthed my characters, if I was mourning them.” — Patti Smith, Devotion
mac and cheese, the ongoing Juice & Bile collection, the Bards Dispense Profanity competitions, the Epi milkshake runs, the stress, the laughter, and the surprises. Through it all—the successes and the letdowns, the traditions and the beautiful deviations—I see a family and a home. This year has passed me by faster than you can rattle off a Rupi Kaur poem, but the connections I’ve made with my Anthem family will endure throughout the ages.
This magazine is itself an effort to make new connections. These stories, these words, these characters are no longer ours to keep. We send them out into the world for others to read and make their own. As the leaves of this magazine fall into new hands, our family tree grows a little larger.
At the close of another semester, I find myself in mourning— mourning the passing days, another Thursday meeting gone by, each week a reminder that my tenure as Editor-in-Chief is nearing an end. Winter gives way to Spring, and the brink of this new season grants a rare moment of pause for reflection. Like the writer who steps away from the penned page, I look back on the year and wonder if I did it justice. In August, I set out to make the Anthem bigger and better than ever. I wanted to make a space for budding authors and artists to share their work uninhibited by the constraints of school, work, or stricter publishers. I hoped that we could be a hub of creativity, producing the most innovative content on campus. I envisioned an organization that could teach other students how to craft their work in addition to printing it.
We mourn the passage of time, the irretrievable dreams, the ephemeral act of creation. But what is past need not leave us empty. I keep a copy of The Anthem for myself. I push old editions gently aside, making room on the shelf for new ones to come. I fill the blank spaces with poetry and color and memory. I pass my pen to you. Sincerely, Courtney Lee
Perhaps I’ve fallen short of my own lofty goals, but beyond the initial wave of remorse, I feel an immense pride in belonging to this artistic community. Holding the latest edition of The Anthem, I see the fullness of the year: the open mics and the book swaps, the failed attempts at making Sad Girl Eats Popcorn Alone
Editor-in-Chief Courtney Lee
Secretary Danielle Devillier
Treasurer Juliana Vaccaro de Souza
Layout Director Jenna Creighton
Website Director Emily Greffenius Outreach Director Huneeya Siddiqui
Marketing Director Zane Chowdhry
Staff: April Artrip
Table of Contents Poetry and Prose
Beneath the Skin
Front and Back Cover: Bloom, by Julia Hyacinthe
Margaret Hodson Ex Nihilo (4)/Solar System Rave (20)/Amman Grafitti/Stockholm Grunge (29)/Blurred Breakaway (50-51)
Charleston in the Springtime is a Tease
A Jewish Christmas
Yo la sombra tú la luz
What Is Loneliness?
A Man’s Fair Form
I Love Words
Song of Myself
My sister, la fantasma
Treatment and Control
It is Hard to Say
Mutually Assured Destruction
Oracle of the Poppies
Roman S. Ponos Christopher Srein
Amanda Nemecek Maya Gabby
Julia Hyacinthe The Way She Moves (5)/Self Portrait (30)/Mirrord (31)/Crossing Over (34)/Outlook (35)/Warmth (36)/Haze (41)/Empathy (42)/ Perch/Enter (43)/Road Trip/Forward (44)/Anyone Home (52) Ingyeong Kang Cathedral (13) Fiona Kennedy Kaleidescope (3)/Medusa (33)/Koi Queen (54) Ridwan Meah Hot Air Balloons Launching: Cappadocia, Turkey/Istanbul Skyline by Sunset (2)/A Soft Sunset: Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA (19)/ Lots of Lamps: Old Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey/Orta Köy Mosque by Dawn: Istanbul, Turkey (21)/The Eiffel Tower on a Warm July Day: Paris, France (25)/Dawn Lift Off: Cappadocia, Turkey/Horses Watching Balloons Soar: Cappadocia, Turkey (26)/Temple Neuf on the Mösel River: Metz, France (27)/Sunset View of the Bosphorus from Suleymaniye Mosque: Istanbul, Turkey (37) Amy Meng Ocean Eyes (6) Bushra Shaikh Concrete Rainbow (48)/Georgetown at Dusk (49) Harsh Sharda A Valentine, Forgotten (9) Abby Webster Sole (14)/Tines/Liquor/Punica (15)/Crux (39) Kirk Zieser Prickle/Otherworldly (11)/Lunar Bleeding (17)/Relentless Exposure (36)/Roll ‘n’ Rocks (37)/300 Million Olfactory Receptors at Work/Missed It By Thaaaat Much/Smile (47)/The Calm Before the Tourists (48)
Beneath the Skin Ryan Johnston Focus your white rays of light on mine And watch my distant gaze greet you, Found again, my heart skips a beat; I burn as once more I meet you. Desire roars and rages, yet words fail me And I combust; frantic, I try to free The flame that flickers calling out your name But, reluctant, it elects to linger. Still I persist, poking and prodding Until at long last I strike the air: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Singe my foolish thoughts of any other Lover! Lift this weight from my chest!â&#x20AC;? No longer shall I burn beneath the skin, I refuse to be consumed from within.
Hot Air Balloons Launching: Cappadocia, Turkey//Ridwan Meah
Istanbul Skyline by Sunset//Ridwan Meah
I never met another half as kind As he who stoops to warm the waking world When at his touch, fruit brightens on the vine, And flowers stretch with happy leaves uncurled. He traced for me the history of man, For nothing new escapes his steady sight I spoke of dreams, but soon let silence stand, Contented to be lost within his light. That evening I pursued him as he turned And tried in vain to catch him by the hand Imagining that I would rather burn Than be bereft of him when darkness lands But Fate would have me peer through bars of gold, Compelled to always reach, but never hold.
Drain Taylor Kahn-Perry Juliette felt the Tired in the backs of her knees. It was a dull and constant ache that had lived with her for some time now, though she had been working at the local high school for years and couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t quite place when the throbbing had begun. She supposed it must have started when the school first began to swallow her, first pulling on her fingers and toes, later straining the whole of her extremities. The Tired filled the building like it was a swimming pool, reached every corner and crevice and submerged the bodies of every person inside. There was no shallow end to the Tired; not one person could feel air above their heads.
Ex Nihilo//Margaret Hodson
When she finally made it home on Friday afternoons, the Tired crept into the house before she could shut the door behind her. It sat across the table from her at dinner, interrupting her between bites of food and slowing her thoughts to a lull so slowed and dimmed and dull she felt outside herself. She drank wine in the evenings, and the Tired would sneak into her glass and push itself down her throat and settle into her stomach where it tried to spend the night, stretching and rolling over and turning sideways while Juliette watched the evening news. The Tired tugged at the skin beneath her eyes as she
The Way She Moves//Julia Hyacinthe
watched the film unfold, the too-bright images of the silly people in smart jobs whose money and carelessness and fear made the Tired spread to her students, to their parents and families, to the people she passed on the street each time she walked home from the school. Sometimes, when the Tired got to be too much, Juliette wished she could invite the whole world to her house for a meal, like if she could just give that comfortable warmth and ease that only the nicest toasted piece of bread brings then the Tired would relent for just a moment. She had this small memory, just a glimpse, from before the Tired, where the sun bled through every window in the high school and soaked the building in warm amber light. She couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t figure out if was real or imagined, and she supposed that was the fault of the Tired too, the way the days ran together like watercolors. Most Friday evenings, she let the Tired by all her limbs so completely that her body sunk completely into her bed at night. Most Friday evenings, she welcomed rest, and sometimes the Tired was cooperative and led her into beautiful dreams of skies the color of July peaches and smiling school children rolling down grassy hills in the summertime, greening their backs and shoulders at ease. This Friday, though, Juliette laid down to rest and
felt her body grow red and angry. She sat up in bed and felt the Tired spill from her eyes in sizzling heat, and she wanted to scream at the Tired like a young child, but it had reached into her throat and stolen her tongue and her words with it and so she just sat there, forcing exhales and inhales to keep her afloat. She sprung from her bed and ran out of her house and down the block and in and out of neighborhoods, with each step trying to shake the Tired, but it was like trying to shake her own shadow. She had been running for long enough that the ache behind her knees had spread to her shins, ankles, calves, and so she reached the top of a final hill before slowing to a stop. She saw from the corner of her eye something pale and glowing in a strange sort of fog. A few more steps revealed a lake. She jumped in. She opened her eyes beneath the water and felt her hair expand behind her. Beneath the water were people, submerged under the surface and perfectly still. She heard a quiet tapping sound and wondered if there was an animal or fish or if the Tired had followed her, but then she put her hand on her chest and felt the tapping sound coming from inside her. She looked around. At once, she realized the sound was a dozen hearts beating in unison, that the bodies she heard, perfectly still, were oh, so awake.
Ocean Eyes//Amy Meng
Poor Decisions Kayla Nikc Congratulations, you’ve really done it now, you’re a royal screw up, you’ve made a really terrible horrible mistake and suddenly no one in the world likes you anymore (Alone Again, Naturally - Gilbert O’Sullivan) you want to punch something and you want to curse something else but mostly, mostly you just want to cry and you can’t cry now (Who’s Crying Now - Journey) because you don’t want other people to see you they can’t see you they can’t hear you you can’t let them see you weak (Helpless - Hamilton) but you can hear them now, their conversations crawling through the cracks of your room, invading your private panic — they’re giggling, laughing, joking and are they allowed to be this loud when you’re about to be eaten by the earth beneath your feet? That was a curse from Shakespeare, right? “Gape open wide and eat him quick”? Eat them quick. Those talkers outside who insist on invading your thoughts (Everybody Talks - Neon Trees) and can’t they just leave you alone? Because you can’t break free (I Want to Break Free - Queen) But now you’re standing in the shower trying to wash away the memories and you scrub them raw with all the flowery soap you own and it’s sweet and its comforting and oh my god you are ready to gag you know lavender is meant to be soothing but it’s sick and it can’t stop you now (Don’t Stop Me Now - Queen) because you can’t help replaying your life after making that choice because ultimately it’s easier to re-live than to continue living (Stayin’ Alive - Bee Gees) with the decisions you’ve made and it’s so much easier to just sit on the wet floor and hug your knees to your chest (Under Pressure - Queen) against the water and in your head you’re jumping off cliffs like the lemmings that are supposed to commit suicide by jumping off cliffs but don’t actually commit suicide by jumping off cliffs — are we all lemmings jumping off cliffs? (Jump - Van Halen) Don’t jump. Make new decisions and make a new playlist.
Charleston in the Springtime is a Tease Charleston in the springtime is a tease. For a moment, each year, the warmth tricks me into loving the climate of the Lowcountry, the sunshine, the persistent but every-so-slight breeze. For a moment, I forget all about the coming humidity, the nearing heavy air, the long and sticky afternoons of July and August that exhaust me with sweat and feverish heat before the day has even begun to begin. Springtime in Charleston tricks me into believing that everything around me can and will and must grow upward—sprout into life from deep inside the earth, stretch root into flower into meadow into garden. Into sunshine and air with the warmth of a hug without the weight of a body collapsing over mine. Everybody welcomes it. The entire Lowcountry breathes the season into life like a religious ritual, the holy months of growth and nourishment, chances to seize each and every day perennial, the cliché no matter to a single soul. The suggestion that a single thing—plant, root, person, family—would not survive springtime in Charleston has always felt impossible. When I was young, there was not a single person more devoted to this notion than my mother. Despite enough decades of life to expect disappointment or welcome stagnancy throughout the seasons, she clung to the promise of the sunshine with a ferocity even my young and unharmed self could never quite muster. It was as if she believed that if she sat in the sunshine long enough, everything tangible and urgent would bleed to background in the evening sunset or drift 8
Taylor Kahn-Perry away like her exhales with the morning breeze. Even when springtime faltered, my mother’s faith in it did not. If it rained, she stood by the window awaiting the slightest glow of light from the corner of the sky. If the humidity came months too early, she went to the beach, welcomed the wind, tried her hardest to ignore the mosquitos at dusk, and held tightly in her arms the waves and sand at once like both glitter and light. I remember one afternoon in particular where, despite the darkness, my mother collected every ounce of sunlight possible, to save for a rainy day, to hold close to her as she fell asleep at night, even as springtime became ever so fleeting. I was sitting in her car in the driveway, waiting for her to take me to a friend’s house, I suppose. She must have been finishing a load of laundry or searching for her glasses. Either way, I was impatient, frustrated when my mother made a detour to chat with my neighbor (who also, often, felt like my mother) Ms. Katherine between our two front yards. The grass below them was tall and alert, stretching up toward the sun as they exchanged words. “Sick… your parents?” My mom asked. Ms. Katherine shook her head. “No. Me.” Her eyes seemed to lurch forward as she spoke, as if they were trying so desperately to reach out and make contact with this earth, this season of expanse and fertility and vigor. I don’t remember their words after that, only the way
my mother reached her hand over to touch Ms. Katherineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shoulder, the way their eyes looked past one another, into the blue skies of springtime, their jaws clenched and throats tight. When my mom finally got back in the car, she started to explain to me that Ms. Katherine was sick, but I could tell she could not exhale, and somehow this season of breath had been stolen from her, her words with it, so we just sat in the warm car with no
A Valentine, Forgotten//Harsh Sharda
air conditioning and let the warmth of the sunlight fill it up like a giant balloon that would hold us through the thick summer and stiff winter and the rounds of chemo and the empty vessels of people we would all become for the next cycle of seasons, the promise of springtime slipping from our slight all the while.
A Jewish Christmas Christopher Stein Tonight, we are rolling giuggiulena at the kitchen table, forming little logs, rolling them across a plate of sesame seeds, lining them up on parchment paper, laying them on a cookie sheet, pushing them gently into the oven, and my mother turns to me, says, look at the window, the Christmas cactus is blooming it is the first time since my Jewish grandmother died that the Christmas cactus she left for us is blooming, and the buds are pink, and the giuggiulena smell like vanilla extract.
Stickers Danielle Devillier There were stickers on the windows of my grandparents’ house. The kitchen was cool and smooth and calming, made of white cabinet that cast long shadows over me. I stood there behind someone’s legs for a moment, to escape the sun. The kitchen, it felt, was the only place in the world where my eyes wouldn’t burn. It was morning, because it was only ever morning in the house, and light flooded the living room. I wasn’t tall enough to touch the shutters, but I still tried, standing up in my favorite chair to reach for them while sunlight fell on me. I climbed down before someone caught me, and walked squinting to the sliding glass doors. Through them were the docks and the water and the glaring sun. If I watched long enough, I would see an alligator. I didn’t watch long enough. I reached into the plastic box in the corner and took out a roll of stickers bigger around than my arm. I selected a green one and pressed it to the glass. * My grandfather allowed the stickering of the house, or so I was told after he died. The stickers were all over, red and green and blue and yellow smiles, plastered sideways and upside- down. As the house was very smooth, there were many opportunities for sticker-sticking, but the sliding glass doors bore most of them. My mom let go of my hand when we came in. She pointed into the living room. Remember how Papa let you put the stickers there? I wasn’t sure that I did. I walked to the sliding doors and pushed toys around in the box until I found the roll of stickers, not quite as big as my arm. I thought I might remember, actually. In my mind it was morning, and there was a lingering smell of Old Spice. I looked again at his recliner, across the room. He wasn’t there. I picked a sticker off the roll and pressed it to the glass, wondering when he’d be back. 12
We went back to the house on a Saturday to move everything out. We aren’t selling it, my mom told me, like it was my choice too. We’re renting it out. I sat in a corner and practiced my spelling words while the house slowly emptied of furniture and people, until only she and I were left. She vacuumed, and I halfheartedly swept the white kitchen. Papa let you put those stickers everywhere. I hadn’t seen them in a long time, but I remembered faintly that I liked the yellow ones least. The dark ones, red and green and blue, were brighter when the sun came through the windows. I abandoned my broom to go and touch one, and it was papery and worn. The glass was vaguely dirty, and I rubbed my fingers together. It occurred to me then that the doors would have to be washed. The stickers would have to be scraped away. Maybe my mom had said that earlier. I hadn’t been paying attention. I cleaned the doors myself, though I still couldn’t reach the top. The stickers were mine, red and green and blue like little scars in the cool, smooth house, and I thought I should be the one to wipe them away. It took less effort than I anticipated. Less scrubbing. They slid off like they’d been waiting for me to reclaim them, or like they lost their stick without my grandparents there. The house felt too full of artificial light. The kitchen wasn’t shadowed, and it wasn’t morning in the living room. The stickers smiled at me as I peeled them away. I tucked a green one in my pocket. When I’d cleaned as high as I could, my mom took over. There were more stickers up there, far above my head. It led me to believe that my grandfather had not so much allowed the stickering of his house as had participated in its stickering. I tucked the thought away in my pocket with the green smile. My mom and I locked up the house, clean and smooth and dimming, and I like to think we forgot a sticker somewhere.
Yo la sombra y tú la luz Sasha Jovanovski Claudia studies the universe. Old-fashioned like, with a telescope and a star map. Occasionally there are high-res computers involved, but that’s in lab. Out here it’s just a sky and two lenses and the eyes of a girl called Claudia. Occasionally there’s another girl. Her name is Fern. Occasionally there’s a bottle, and it’s filled with something worthwhile. Mostly those two occasions overlap, and the bottle takes them anywhere the telescope can’t. But it’s a pretty talented telescope. “I wish,” says Fern, “for a kitten.” She’s flat on her back on the coarse blue blanket, tossing an apple up and down. Claudia is reading the summer map with a flashlight. “What star are you wishing on?” she asks. “Can’t I wish without one?” “Sure,” she says. “But it won’t work.” “You don’t know that,” says Fern. “When it comes to wishes you’re as blind as I am.” A sky and two lenses and the eyes of a girl called Claudia. Fern’s eyes are old news. “Maybe so,” says Claudia. “Tal vez.” Fern has been wishing for a kitten since the day she was born. Since the day Australopithecus was born. Since the day stella polaris was born. But here they sit on a blanket atop a cliff in the sand dunes at midnight, no closer in time or space to Lucy or the North Star than they are to cat ownership. Somewhere nearby there’s water, a body or soul of it, and they can hear the waves rolling but they come in from every direction, water and sound ricocheting off the dunes so the whole shore feels curled in on itself. The only way out is up. Fern says, “When I get my kitten, I’m going to name him Hades.” 16
“That’s grim.” “It isn’t at all. The book I listened to said it means ‘unseen.’” Claudia didn’t know that. But it’s the kind of thing Fern’s people run with, mythologies and symbolism and Sonnet 73. Claudia thinks that stuff’s okay. Fern makes it make sense, but on her own she gets lost in it, in the turns of dialogue and the characters who all want something different. Maybe it’s unkind, but she likes walking out of quantum with the crowd and hearing them all complain, hearing them whine the professor goes too fast, she assigns too much work, she doesn’t explain well enough and knowing in her heart that they don’t belong. Claudia belongs. “You don’t like it?” She starts. “What?” Fern throws the apple and it hits her arm and falls. “Anyone home? The name for my kitten—you don’t like it?” “No,” she says, “I like it. It’s clever. I was just thinking about stuff.” Fern pouts, which Claudia loves because it proves something or other about genetic memory and how humans learn to make facial expressions, and also because she likes Fern’s face. “What stuff?” says Fern. “What’s in your angel head?” “The sky,” she says, since it’s usually the truth. “I’m reading the star map.” “You have it memorized, sweets.” “I’m double-checking, sweets.” Claudia puts down the map and the flashlight and leans back on her elbows. She points up at the sky.
“There’s Pegasus. Do you see it? In the east?” “No. Show me.” It’s a routine they have, a little dance. She takes Fern’s hand and touches it to her eyes, then lifts it up and away until her fingers point at the stars. Pegasus, born in a bath of demon blood, flying to the sunrise forever. “I see it,” Fern says. “It’s pretty.” Claudia looks down. “You’re pretty.” “Pretty sober,” she says and sits up so quickly they nearly knock foreheads. “Enough of this outer space shit. I want a kitten.” “Well, there’s only whiskey.” “Oh, fine.” Claudia studies the universe. Fern does a couple of things. She tunes pianos, for one, and sometimes people pay her for it. For another she drinks to go blind, which would have been a problem in another life, but as it stands Claudia has no qualms handing off the whiskey and letting her girl have at it. She starts to mess with the
telescope—trying to keep it upright in the sand is a sort of “Sisyphean torture” according to Fern, but Claudia refuses to look up what that means because she knows it’s an insult to her telescope. (Only she’s allowed to insult her telescope.) She digs the tripod deeper into the sand and calls it a cabrón for good measure, which it seems to register because afterward it stays still. Then she leans down and looks into the eyepiece. “You don’t want any of this, Claud?” “Of course I do, don’t you dare drink it all,” she says, adjusting dials. “Jesus, who got this thing so out of whack?” Fern laughs into the bottle. “Give it to me, I’ll fix it.” “You and your nimble piano hands, huh?” She seems to enjoy that. “I work well with my hands.” Claudia jumps and the progress she’s made on the focus knob is undone. “Oh—just—drink your drink.” She cackles and grabs a handful of Claudia’s shirt. “Teach me to say something.” “Wha—now? Give me two minutes?”
Lunar Bleeding//Kirk Zieser
She tugs the shirt. “Now. Nownownownownow.” “How did you have one sip of that and go batshit?” “This is just my personality, dahling.” Claudia emerges from the telescope, defeated, and snatches the whiskey from Fern and swigs it. “Fine,” she says, words burning. “What do you want to say?” “Teach me poetry.” She frowns. “Poetry?” Fern stops yanking her shirt. “You don’t know any?” She does, distantly. Claudia likes to read, and poems are short and sweet and if you don’t understand one you won’t have lost a lot of time trying (mostly). She remembers some of them, in translation or not, but—nothing of Fern’s caliber. Nothing like Cervantes. “No,” she says. “Not any.” “Okay,” says Fern, undeterred. “How do you say Hades?” “Hades,” she says—ah-dess—and for good measure, adds: “Perséfone. Deméter. Atenea.” “Fun,” says Fern. “Vas a llamar Hades al gatito.” “Sure. How do you know those names in Spanish?” Claudia shrugs. “Not even sure how I know them in English. Besides, they’re all the same.” Fern reaches out a hand and Claudia puts the bottle in it. “You can go back to your telescope,” she says. Claudia laughs. “I’m dismissed?” A sleazy grin. “For now.” The telescope—perhaps it needed a moment to settle—is more receptive to constructive criticism this time around, and the knobs have stopped conspiring to put the Big Dipper permanently out of focus, so Claudia proceeds with her studies. The universe, she thinks, must be the greatest art history project ever invented, the most comprehensive lesson in geometry or philosophy or love. Even knowing the name of the star in Cygnus’ tailfeather feels special. It’s the only thing you could possibly study. Fern, drinking, studies it now without knowing. She leans on Claudia’s back and imbibes it through touch alone, swallows whole breaths of it and sets it running between the two of them, back and forth like an electron or a sparrow or something else so quick and light that if you caught it it would die. Except this—this can’t die. It was the first thing. And it shows itself to them, in swans’ tails and whiskey. Quietly, Claudia says, “I lied.” 18
In that breath of silence she regrets saying it because she can hear every whisper every thought in Fern’s head she lied? She lied? When she did lie did she promise something is it me is it about me is it about us is this all a “About the poem!” she says. “The poetry, Fern. The Spanish. I do know one. I lied.” The alcohol takes a moment to decide if Fern is going to be mad or not, but in the end she just looks puzzled. “Why?” Claudia shrugs and looks away, as if that does anything. “Didn’t think it was good enough.” “Claud, I’m not even going to understand it.” “I am. And you would have asked.” “Anything you tell me is good enough.” That hits hard, cuts straight through the booze. She lowers herself onto her stomach and leans on her elbows, looking into Fern’s pretty eyes. She begins, “Te amo.” Fern goes still. “Te amo,” she says, “como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras. Secretamente. Entre la sombra y el alma.” They wait a while. They hear the waves. “It goes on,” Claudia admits. “What does it mean?” Fern says. Then: “No, I mean—I’m sorry, I didn’t—” “No,” she says, and sits up suddenly. She grabs the apple and her flashlight and switches it on, sets them in place. “It’s okay. I can explain. Look—look at this, Fern.” She takes Fern’s hands and shows her. The apple, sitting neat on the sandy blanket, has become the earth, and the live flashlight pointed at its side is the sun. She shows Fern the weak heat of the bulb, the apple’s dry skin, then puts her hand down under the long shadow the two make against the ground. “This,” Claudia says. “It means we’re an eclipse. It means you’re there, and you shine, and I’m here, and I fall. Nuestra alma, us—that’s in the middle. I’m the shadow of us, our love, the world, and you’re the light that makes me. Do you see? Fern, do you see?” “No,” Fern says, and kisses her. Kissing looks like stars, it looks like Spanish poetry written by someone who studied the universe. Claudia’s foot hits her model solar system and the apple rolls away into the dunes and the shadow disappears, but she doesn’t see any of that. Maybe Fern saw it, maybe they
A Soft Sunset: Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA//Ridwan Meah
traded eyes. But all Fern does is pull her down and in and away. When she comes to, from the kissing or the alcohol or something else, they’re lying in the sand. The sky dome above the dunes looks soft and feathery, like it does on gray days when the universe has folded up the earth in its wings. Cygnus soars overhead. Fern says, “In the poem, you said ‘secretamente.’ Secretly.” “Yes.” “Why secretly? You love me secretly, Claud?” It isn’t an accusation, but Fern doesn’t like secrets. “No, it’s just…private,” says Claudia. “You’re the sun. What celestial things do is their business.” She narrows her dead eyes. “You watch Venus with a telescope.” “Okay, my metaphor’s broken. Go on.” Fern fidgets. “I want people to know, though. I want to”—she laughs—“I want to enlighten them. You like private, Claudia, I know, but it’s so private. Let’s not be
scared.” Fern scans as the kind of girl who’s never been scared in her life. But people think since she can’t see, she must not know anything. People think she could never take care of herself, much less another person, or a cat. She’s had more reason to be scared than Claudia has maybe ever. So Claudia says, “Okay. Then we’ll tell them.” Fern glances up—maybe Australopithecus taught her that. “We will?” “Yeah. We’ll start off with everyone.” “Everyone?” Claudia takes Fern’s hand and points it up at the stars. “Everyone that’s out there, everyone who’s the universe. We’ll tell them right now. You see them?” She’s grinning like crazy. “I do, yeah. Of course I do.” “Can I tell them now?” “Sure.” Claudia leans over, and the world sees an eclipse.
Solar System Rave//Margaret Hodson
Lots of Lamps: Old Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey//Ridwan Meah
Orta Kรถy Mosque by Dawn: Istanbul, Turkey//Ridwan Meah
A Manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fair Form Henry Silver
Had I a manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fair form, then might my plea Be cast towards thy ruddy, cheerful ears. Had I but any want of gaucherie, Then might my dulcet speech with thee endear. If every man doth this conceit deny, Then venial be every sin of mine. If thou on me dost dote, then might my sigh Be echoed swiftly through thy turbid mind. But had benign Fortuna spun me well, Wouldst thou to me forever cling and wed? Would then acute delight our own love quell? Shall I now mine own fervent ardor shed?
Rest now and sleep the greatest slumber wist, As I await thee in my lonely tryst.
The Eiffel Tower on a Warm July Day: Paris, France//Ridwan Meah
Dawn Lift Off: Cappadocia, Turkey//Ridwan Meah
Horses Watching Balloons Soar: Cappadocia, Turkey//Ridwan Meah
Temple Neuf on the Mรถsel River: Metz, France//Ridwan Meah
I Love Words Henry Silver
I love words. I like gruff words, such as din, don, cavort, curt, and cull. I like words that well up in my throat as I sputter them out, like tea leaves choking a drain. I like litigious words, such as adjournment, adjudicate, affidavit, and abjure. I like polysyllables that flow like honey from my lips. I like arcane Franco-words, such as demesne, demimonde, debonair, puissant, and hauteur. I like mouthing old words, like blowing dust from a scruffy tome of yore. I like rotund and Pecksniffian words, such as prestidigitation, tintinnabulation, sesquipedalian, pusillanimous, pulchritudinous, and rodomontade. I like words that crackle in the open air, like fireworks bursting in the welkin. I like dialectal words, such as snollygoster and gallimaufry. I like words that congeal like sweet molasses on my tongue, hardened by the rough lapse of time. I like scathing words, such as vituperate, logomachy, pugnacious, bludgeon, and oppugnant. I like words that cut deep, like the talons of a predating falcon into the flesh of its prey. I like metathetical and nearly unpronounceable words, such as folderol, cavalry, and parabola. I like words that make the tongue contort and dance, like wind chimes in the breeze.
Although I may know many, I still love words. May I have a few with you?
Amman Grafitti//Margaret Hodson
Stockholm Grunge//Margaret Hodson
Song of Myself Henry Silver I dwell far below and in the heavens, in all the hells and paradises forgotten and never known; They who seek to understand me, who am their shadow, know me not, for I retreat in haste; Inexpressible, sightless, forever beyond reach; They who do not seek to understand me always perceive me, for I abide and tarry in omnipresence. I chase the autumn wind winnowing its way across the grass; I coast through the uncultivated streets, evading the cowlicked hair of idle passers-by; I am ballast upon the bilge â&#x20AC;&#x201C; without let or hindrance; I am chaff sorted from the wheat â&#x20AC;&#x201C; abject, needless, fraught with burden.
Self Portrait//Julia Hyacinthe
Born of the summer and her flat calms, I gambol with the gentle breezes; The countless orbs of sand turn toward me with solemn gaze; They watch me, witness me, and rove over me, but they mistrust me; For who would fancy that I who am child to the wind and enemy to the sea would rather travel by foot than through air? I am above the city, over the country, across the sylvan glade, upon the nearly frozen lakes of early winter; And I rest beneath the soggy masses of leaves and the shrouding branches overhead; I impress my soul on all those things I have touched and must touch yet; My being suffuses your senses, and my thoughts hold fast to yours; The distinction between us wanes, and identity perishes in due course.
My sister, la fantasma JT Camparo My sister, la fantasma, blows in and out of my life. I can smell her on the wind before she comes to visit. Her bracelets rattle like old bones, her dark skin is ashy, and her eyes hollow. She grins at me with all her teeth. I can see her hunger in the gesture. I take her into a strong hug anyway. My mother mourns my sister. She won’t see her. She won’t feed her, which is worse. My mother smells famine and drought on the air and wafts the smoke from burning sage over the doorways and windows. When I visit she passes an egg over my body. I don’t tell my sister, but I don’t ask my mother to stop. It helps. I regain color and weight and stop feeling so desperately thirsty all the time. She sends me home with sopa de malanga, lavender lotion, and bundles of dried sweet sage she hopes I’ll use. “I cannot lose another daughter.” She never calls my sister by name. I go almost a year without seeing her. She doesn’t call, doesn’t write. I don’t smell dust on the wind. I listen for the rattling of bones but the night is full of regular noises: dogs barking, traffic, the hum of a street light. Until one day I stop in front of my door and hear a laugh like a death rattle. I can see the back of her head, long black hair falling down the back of the couch. My roommate is getting her a glass of water. Makes sense, she can’t enter the kitchen herself, has probably been lingering on the edges of it until he saw her. It’s a place of creation, my territory, and la fantasma can’t cross the threshold. He sets it down on the table and greets me before he has to leave for the night shift at the hospital. While his back is turned she drains the glass in one 32
smooth movement. I sit on the chair opposite her and stare. I can’t help it. She’s pregnant. I can see the life glowing through her ashy skin. She’s always been translucent around the edges, fading in and out, but around her belly she’s solid. She grins at me with too sharp teeth. If I entertained the thought for even second that she’d begun to dig herself out of the pit for her baby, it’s gone. She’s still hungry, hungrier than ever. I can feel myself drying out, weakening from here, and I haven’t even touched her. “I can’t keep it. I won’t change so I can’t keep it. Do you want it?” She’s so blunt about it. This is a version of my sister pared down to bone and I’m never going to get used to what that means. * The birth is a difficult one. We gather around the bathtub in my mother’s house, cousins, my mother, and I. Sweet sage is set aside for now. Hours of pushing, bloody water, and the inhuman screeching of my sharp sister, her long black hair plastered to her face where it has escaped from its tie. Finally, the baby is born. A wrinkly red bundle that begins screaming as soon as her mother reaches for her. My sister pulls her hands back slowly, then leans back in the tub, exhausted. She stares at her baby, pupils blown so wide the darkness swallows her eyes, unblinking black holes, for the entire time it takes to cut the umbilical, to clean her and wrap her in soft cloth. She tracks the movement of
tiny fists waving through the air, the small body beginning to still while a breastfeeding cousin feeds her. She burns with want so badly that the bath water begins to evaporate around her before she visibly calms herself. When I look away from the baby my sister is gone. A trail of dripping footprints in soiled water leading to the wall and stopping. My mother burns sage, cleans the entire house top to bottom, and burns sage again. She insists Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll need the help being a first time mom for my niece and practically forces us to move in. I had to move out of the shared
Crossing Over//Julia Hyacinthe
apartment anyway. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right about needing help, but I notice all the other things she does too. She hangs blue glass eyes in the kitchen windows and the nursery. She keeps statues of saints in corners, embroiders symbols into the baby blankets, puts herbs in my bathwater. That doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop me from waking up in the rocking chair one night, baby in a chest sling, to see the hungry void eyes of my sister taking in the sight of her sleeping child.
She looks at me, and then la fantasma turns away.
Mercurial Danielle Devillier
I sometimes dream I passed among the stars Upon my little bike of silver-blue With moonlight trailing from the handlebars And constellations turning as I flew. For though I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t pass among the stars, While on the path I tried to learn to ride, My memory is snatched away by Mars, And Saturn sings to set my fears aside. I know I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t pass among the stars; I undertook to ride and often fell Among the wayside roses, leaving scars Along my legs and on my mind as well. The scars heal over, skin pulled pale and tight, And time turns bramble thorns to stars of night.
Relentless Exposure//Kirk Zieser
Sunset View of the Bosphorus from Suleymaniye Mosque: Istanbul, Turkey//Ridwan Meah
Roll ‘n’ Rocks//Kirk Zieser
Haunted Forest Christopher Stein I am standing outside a haunted forest I have felt nothing all night men with toothless chainsaws do not scare me bloody clowns throwing dull knives do not scare me neither witches weeping blood nor bitches weeping mascara scare me I am scared by the blind morass of mud that sucks me down pulls me back into my life I think it is the wrong life I do not ask for the words that slip around my collar like a necktie something to hoist me up and dash me down I do not raise my phone to my ear wanting to feel something for the first time tonight I am screaming I am so full of the rage that boils over like witchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s brew I do not know why my life is an apparition other peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wishes are writ across my brow like a crown of stars the dictates of capricious constellations changing with each season I wish I could plunge back into that haunted forest throw myself on a toothless chainsaw to cut this iron heart out of me
Treatment and Control Professor Roman S. Ponos Over the last quarter century, the ink dried with drama and flying rumors Impressions, once clear with instruments, stood dull with the times when I did not have an answer. Seduced by the tohubohu of mixed methods, through its weight and silence, her fingertips searched for something more, some faint evidence, a mere scribble, to determine the impact, empowered by formulas
and meetings I left uncomfortably.
They lost touch. With just enough rope to hammock the divide, goose the sample, enrich the analysis and journey off the coast of Africa.
to the highest mountain in Spain
In Fann Hock, an angelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s trumpet drowned out midday prayers, caught echoing weakly against empty boats
randomizing the fishmongers at
the evening market. The Corniche is uncharacteristically quiet with minimum detectable effects; everyone is in St. Louis for the jazz festival
and data collection.
Young fitness enthusiasts and Francophone economists are perpetually caught in lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fishing net, where they 40
and wear the hook.
discard the boubou
Road Trip//Julia Hyacinthe
I.E.D. Christopher Stein I sit on a couch, I am my own shrink, I do not shrink this thing I have gathered to myself like knives to my magnetic heart, I have conducted electricity through it too, have built a bomb in my chest and set it on the side of the road, it blows up beside unassuming travelers, in the spray of gravel, screams and screams and screams and screams and screams, and it is me, and I scream and scream and scream, it is not the same, it is different every time, it is different on every psychiatrist’s couch, it is odd, it comes out through the mouth back up the trachea, distending the throat, popping out covered up in spit like a hard-won pearl, and so shiny, my magnetic heart, I place it on the couch, maybe I can crack it open, it will tell you itself, it will get straight to the reason I’ve gathered you, you are in concentric rings around my couch, and your eyes are unseeing marble, so I tap my heart on the edge of the coffee table, and it splits, the yolk is gold and knows it can’t get straight to the reason I gathered you, you are in concentric rings, and at the center, my heart continues to suck all the sharp things to it, mindless, heedless of the pain. Someday soon, it will spit them back out.
It Is Hard to Say Christopher Stein
Here is what I had intended: I am forcing ridges into potato gnocchi on the back of a fork, smiling, talking, my sisters are pressing breadcrumbs into rings of squid dripping with egg; my mother is mincing garlic with one of the tiny knives she buys in four-packs at the dollar store; my father is in his seat, sorting through Christmas cards and those letters people send to tell you that life is swell and you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know them all that well; and I tell my family, without my stomach roiling, what is in my head. But, here is how it went: we have long since cleared each of the seven fishes, stray breadcrumbs have been swept onto the floor, and the dirt from the floor has been swept into a dustpan, hoisted into the garbage, taken around back. I am feeling brave, for once, after a whole bottle of Gnarlyhead Cabernet Sauvignon. One of my sisters has left to visit her in-laws; the other is playing cards for money at a Filipino Christmas Eve with her boss and boyfriend both. I have watched an episode of Columbo until everything feels back-to-front, and I say that I am gay, and they both say, we knew.
300 Million Olfactory Receptors at Work//Kirk Zieser Missed It By Thaaaat Much//Kirk Zieser
Concrete Rainbow//Bushra Shaikh
The Calm Before the Tourists//Kirk Zieser
Georgetown at Dusk//Bushra Shaikh
Mutually Assured Destruction Amanda Nemecek The lips are the most sensitive part of the body, or perhaps the tongue, or perhaps the fingers. I will present them all to you; pressed against your lips, your tongue, your fingers. What is mine becomes yours becomes mycelium. Engulf me. Take the whole of my beating mess and leave me hollowed. I would do this, and more, for you. Let us fuse the cores of our being into something supra-atomic. Let us mushroom out into infinities, our pileus clouds levelling cities, our ash-black spores congealing lungs. Let us explode. Then, find me in the fallout; let us grow anew.
Blurred Breakaway//Margaret Hodson
Slip-Up//Alone Again Maya Gabby crooked blinds hang open sullenly worn bed springs creak, come alive there are no sheets, knees drag on tired blue plastic clothes strewn carelessly, industrial carpeting broken glass shoulder blades, illuminated as trauma toned yellow street lights catch in dilated green eyes, tears form brown sugar moving against licorice sweetness caught between teeth and tongue she remembers him differently back when time stopped, went on, was imprecise they slid swiftly into last spring, together
they were a box of skin colored crayons a sort of Picasso knock off, incomplete morning freshness filtering in, stained glass success used to taste like sour kisses barefoot, treading softly through grass tripping over old pine roots, words fingers on fading coats of mahogany stain a rickety fence she built with her father hidden corner of cracked, California dirt where tulips sometimes blossomed and doves mate for life, is where they laid their youthful love to rest tonightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attempt at resurrection gone awry this heavy dorm door creaks one last sigh
now, there is a summer between them missing twisted floral print, an arm around her waist a miniature garden on the windowsill where love blossomed, he was tender
Naked//2:27AM Maya Gabby
i curl around your rough bones, flesh a night of pink wine & henny shots tears fall on bare, brown ribs please, don’t rub your eyes so hard shaking as skin on skin fades her hands are not his hands warmth radiates out, safe the soft promise of her shape cold air blows steady, white noise i smile, hey baby i’m here lips meet, invite cautious tongues two cupid’s bows press hard my head spins, she sees me even now, in too-sharp pieces we drift into painless sleep no man can touch us, yes survivors make a home of hips never have i known such peace
Anyone Home//Julia Hyacinthe
Serendipitous Symphony Maya Gabby
Summer rain pounds a cracked window, nature’s soothing metronome. We float in a personal ocean of blankets and nakedness, endless. Liquid melanin fingertips reach for the rich sonata of your waist. Pianissimo hands grace bed peace. We are so happy this might be the promised land or heaven’s most intimate orchestra pit. Glistening concrete eyes open faster than polished sea glass, allegro. Foreheads pressed together, I draft hymns so loud they leak from my ears, holiness only you can decipher. Mid-afternoon grey hues and waking up adagio, with ease. Joy vibrates down my spine, resonant, a grand marimba’s lowest register. Swirling tongues dance, lover’s cadenza. Trumpet fingers transcribe celestial movements as thunder crashes crescendo and eager lips, unshaken, improvise. Aching cello of honey gold ribs bowed tenderly, an intricate harmony. Melodious brown sugar curves eliminate blue emotions, no dragged notes. Flurried staccato breaths. Low chromatic moans. Arpeggiated giggles. Happiness. Beyond legs bouncing in time to polyrhythmic heartbeats.
Koi Queen//Fiona Kennedy
Oracle of the Poppies Fiona Kennedy
My halting footstep found the stony chamber A breath poured salt and rose into my lungs I reached to wake the earth, past root and amber-I found a voice, and spoke in ancient tongues: You asked the skies to tell you how it ends, And Fate at once tied strings to all your days. In vain, you caught at stars to make them bend, But static stars know nothing of decay. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll bury you, make blooms from borrowed bones, When Love and Wisdom turn and leave you cold. Recall in me the oracle of knowns, Return to me what mortal hands canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hold. So memory makes eons out of hours. My love, the earth remembers you in flowers.