The Anthem Fall 2019

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the anthem Fall 2019

Letter from the Editor Dear Reader, What you have just opened is the most recent iteration of a magazine brought to life by the contributions of Georgetown’s literary arts community, compiled and edited by the tireless efforts of our staff. This issue represents continuity of a century old tradition of literary arts at Georgetown yet also the perpetual metamorphosis that took the old Georgetown Journal to The Anthem. Often, I wonder what the first edition of The Georgetown Journal was like, what motivated our staff to take The Anthem from an annual publication to a biannual one. These answers are irrelevant— what matters is that these choices have altered the composition of The Anthem resulting in the truly special publication before you.

What has amazed me throughout my tenure as a staff member each semester is the wide breadth of experiences that our students, staff, and faculty have to share. The Anthem takes shape every semester through human connections between the subject and reader— the awe that accompanies reading a perfectly metered sonnet; the laughter evoked by the romanticisms of a trucker; a tender moment shared over crickets. This human connection is the foundation of what distinguishes art between vulgar prose, what speaks to our heart over our senses. The magazine before you is an anthology of experiences, lived and fictitious, colored by our writers, our photographers, and our artists.

With sincerity, I want to thank each artist for your hard work. I must also extend my gratitude to our bold staff for As one of the most under-qualified editors-in-chief in managing all the ends of publication and always being recent memory I feared that I would interrupt the chain of ready to make witty comments. literary mastery passed down from my predecessors. I am proud, however, to present one of the longest issues of I am excited for you to read this magazine. I hope you The Anthem to date thanks to its contributers. experience the same wonder reading The Anthem that we experienced reading it in our office. Zane Chowdhry Editor-in-Chief

Sad Boy Eats Pocky (Alone)// Huneeya Siddiqui Editor-in-Chief Zane Chowdhry Treasurer Courtney Lee Secretary Kayla Nikc Marketing Directior Fiona Kennedy

Webmaster Emily Greffenius Layout Director Jenna Creighton Newsletter Chair Karena Landler

Staff April Artrip Kate Chaillet Sasha Jovanovski Taylor Kahn-Perry Mary Kovacs

Yu Young Lee

Brent Smith

Afua Nyantakyi

Paulina Song

Geena Panzitta

Christopher Stein

Caterina Peracchi

Julianna Vaccaro

Haley Resnick

Abby Webster

William Schott

Nina Yee

Table of Contents Poetry and Prose 1

The Fairytale Circus

Clara Ma 54


The Weaver

Sasaha Jovanovski


Pulteney Street

Danielle Devillier


Don’t Walk

Danielle Devillier


Class Notes

Jimmy McNamara


Ode to a Midterm Exam


Chasing Amber

R.S. Doad


The Sighs of Time

R.S. Doad




Bitten Rot


Apple Picking in Autumn


Father’s Day

Stephanie Humphries


The Next Sire

Henry Silver


Kings and Queens




On Losing Gracefully



Stephanie Humphries


First Kiss

Stephanie Humphries


We Were River Monsters




Palm Readings


The Enamored Trucker to His Swain


Stupid Love




Like a Glass of Coffee



John Scudero

Matt Phillips Panna Gattyan Matt Phillips

Courtney Lee Stephanie Humphries Matt Phillips

Christopher Stein Sasha Jovanovski Courtney Lee Henry Silver Haley Resnick Christopher Stein Camille Bustos Bismonte Sania Ali

a sestina for the monolith that is our marriage


None of It Belongs


The Bridge


Another Labor




Thunder Shake


The Mountain


Hoarder, Interrupted


Día de Cristóbal Colón


Decaying Diadem


Five Acts



Max Zhang Christopher Stein Fiona Kennedy Esther Kang Clara Ma Heerak Christian Kim Christopher Cassidy Jimmy McNamara Akanksha Sinha Nell DiPasquantonio Christopher Stein Fiona Kennedy

Table of Contents Visual Art Front Cover: Hurud, by Bushra Sheikh Sajjad Alvee Field/Today’s Catch (22)/ Haul/Trio (23) Theodore Atwood Photo Essay (16-17) Alexandra Bowman London Eye pt. 1 (14)/London Eye Pt. 4 (15)/London Eye Pt. 3 (47) Camille Bustos Bismonte god of all religions/ kampung warna warni | the colorful town/ dunia kita tidak sebesar daun kelor | our world isn’t as big as a moringa leaf (11)/the invitation/ buram tak selalu tak bermakna | blurry things are not always clear/ the rendezvous/ read at 23:59 (34)/ berpetualang di surga yang tersembunyi di kota batu | adventuring in hidden paradise in the town of Batu week 17-6 (37)/ itu manis | it was sweet (48)/ hidup kita tidak sesederhana itu | our lives aren’t as simple as this (49)/ ruang di antara jari kita | the spaces between our fingers (50)/ Keajaibban Satu Malam di Masjid Tiban (Overnight Miracle of the Masjid Tiban) (51) Deborah Han Animal Crackers/ _거북선 (Turtle Ship) (2)/Taking on the Broccoli (25) Ingyeong Kang Pace (10)/ Meaning of Travel/(43)/ Flower in the night (54)/ Fly to the dream (55)/ Peace of Mind (59)/Mirror of Mind/Love, cloud (82) Zoya Mahmood Berries/Peach (24)/Fall Leaves (26)/ California Sky (28)/ Palos Verdes (38)/ Marquee (44)/ The Promenade/Trees/Pittsburgh Skyline (45)/ Flowers (48)/ Pittsburgh Sunset (56)/ Waves (64)/ Ocean (65)/ String Lights (67)/ Palm Tree (79) John Picker Healy Fall (13)/Autumn Reflections (88) Norisha Quaicoe St. Mary’s Stree (7)/ Good Bye and Thank You (15)/ Rainy Day in Cambridge (18) Light (30-31)/Rayograph (41)/ Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish (60)/ Cambridge Market (75) Sonia Vohra Golden Idol/Temple Run (19)/Angkor Sunrise (18-19)/ Singapore Through the Looking Glass (43)/ Marooned/Showboat (52)/Acid Lake (61)/ The Swinging Tree/Tropical Monet (62)/ Guna Yala (64)/ Everything the Light Touches/Sulfer Reverie (70)/ Too Little Too Late (72)/Nurtured in Lava (73)/ Dystopian Forest (76)/

Monkey See, Monkey Do (77)/ Cerulean Forest (80)/ Aflot in a Bubblegum Sea (81) Katie Wang The Shallows (8)/ DC Underground (32)/ Light Work (69) Kirk Zieser The Wait/ Watch Your Head (4)/ Symmetry/ Stretch/ Perched/ Nature’s Scream/ Outstanding (5)/ Stiletto Silhouette (18)/ Shimmering Sunset (28)/ Lush Tranquility (37)/Struck/ Something out of a Dr. Seuss Book (38)/ Mutual Curiosity (46)/ Pop/ Bursting Color/ At Work (47)/ Frozen Flame (53)/ Morning ‘Do (57)/ Golden Hour (63)/ Volcanic Bloom (65)/ Nurtured in Lava (73)/ Reaching/ Spotted (84)/Harsh Survival (87)

The Fairytale Circus Clara Ma It wasn’t so long ago that I saw, Such the same scene of violet, black and white. Last time ‘twas I in the crowd full of awe, Though now ‘tis I who must dance in the light. I leap, I spin, I walk, a silent act. My face that of a zebra, clown, and mime. Though mocked by the child, the doll cannot crack. The ballet must fly ‘till the end of time. Still I remember the kings, queens, and jacks, And the ticking of diamonds, clubs, and spades. Yet much as I yearn for kingdoms long past, Time struck twelve; there arrived a new charade. So I dance, maintain the fairy tale night. The book gone, now ‘tis my story I write.


Animal Crackers//Deborah Han

_거북선 (Turtle Ship)//Deborah Han 2

The Weaver Sasha Jovanovski

Once was a land far, far to the south, made of Great dunes of white diamond sand Ruled by a prince with the head of a mantis And she whom he made his right hand. Weaver they called her, and knew not her name— It had met with the path of some sword— Cat-tailed and quiet, she conjured up schemes and Delivered them clean to her lord. One night said the Weaver, “My lord, all is well But for whispers I heard through the walls: Your brother by blood plots your death in the dark And sends villains to wander these halls.” The mantis prince cried, gripped his hand to his heart And the hand began slowly to scheme She conferred with her jewels, drew pictures in kohl And she sent her lord’s brother a dream. “Your brother,” she crooned, “won his crown in a game From the father he once called his own— Avenge your dead king, take what’s meant to be yours And I’ll make sure you wear it alone.” The brothers crossed blades and fell both in one lunge Each wielding his traitorous hand From the ashes, the Weaver: maw dripping with blood, Great princess of white diamond sand. So took she her crown and our story is through Till a Weaver awakens again For to kill and learn nothing like fathers long dead Is the curse of the fool mantis men.


The Wait//Kirk Zieser

Watch Your Head//Kirk Zieser 4

Symmetry//Kirk Zieser

Perched//Kirk Zieser

Stretch//Kirk Zieser

Outstanding//Kirk Zieser

Nature’s Scream//Kirk Zieser


Pulteney Street Danielle Devillier On the left side of Pulteney Street, nobody dies. It’s more of an alley, really. It was named in a time when all the streets in town were dark and close. The town grew around it, and it stayed the same; same cobblestones, same tenants, same name. ‘Pulteney Street’ it remained, though there was barely enough room for the doors to swing open all the way without striking the righthand wall. ∎ There was something about the tenants of Left Pulteney Street. Something off. They walked with odd gait, as though weighed down by the years they carried. They smiled and spoke, but their smiles and voices didn’t stretch very far; worn, both, from use. Their skin was so smooth it looked almost false, as though they were beings sculpted of the finest wax among a town fashioned of crude tallow. They were not all lovely, but they were all proper. Some divine being had stretched down its hand and arranged their hair, the turn of their heads, the fall of their coats just so. Like bodies arranged for a wake. The town tried to be kind to them, and when they couldn’t be kind, they were always polite. Some hoped they might gift their immortality to others, like a penny to be passed on. Some figured it was better to be safe than sorry, and undercharged them for that lace you wanted there, sir, ma’am. Some feared them, though without any reason but that strange waxen quality. Every town has its oddities, they would say. ∎ The tenants of Left Pulteney street never changed and never aged. One of the oldest men in town, outside of Pulteney Street, that is, swears on his life that they all look just the same as they did when he was a boy, and that his grandfather used to swear the same thing. The town knew the faces of Left Pulteney Street well; they mixed with them, sold them groceries, and chatted 6

with them nervously about the weather. But no one in the remembered or recorded history of the town had ever spoken to a tenant of Right Pulteney Street. The difference was a simple one. The tenants of Left Pulteney Street were the ever-living. The tenants of Right Pulteney Street were the dead. ∎ It was a fact, like any other. The sun was hot, the water was wet, and the people who lived on the right side of Pulteney Street didn’t live at all. Smoke rose from their chimneys. Movement rustled their curtains. Sometimes, at night, when the rest of the town was snug in bed on wide and lamplit streets, they would leave their houses and walk. But they were dead, just as surely as their neighbors were living. The town told bedtime stories about naughty children adopted by Right Pulteney Street and taken to live there among the embalmed. They told jokes, too, about what happened when the tenants of Left Pulteney Street got tired of living. Well, they said, they just pick themselves up and move across the street! Stay well away from them, the town warned with these half-truths. One fate is not better than the other, and a little fear of Pulteney Street is a healthy thing. No one asked the other question, the one they couldn’t quite make a joke out of. What happened when the tenants of Right Pulteney Street got tired of being dead? ∎ Once a generation or so, a child would be bold enough to sneak out at night and catch a glimpse of a right side tenant. Partly it would be to impress their friends, but partly it would be curiosity, genuine and gnawing. Such a sight was the only way to know death before death came in earnest. Oh, they knew their death wouldn’t be exactly the same— they would be tenants in narrow streets below the ground rather than above it. But who could say if it would really be that different after all?

Pulteney Street was dark and thin as the crack behind your bed. It looked wary, like it would shrink even more and swallow itself whole, if it could. It was a dingy place; the street was dirty and the walls were blackened from a fire there, long ago. The doors would show, to those who squinted, a flaking, brownish color, like they’d once been painted red. Slowly, creaking like old bones, the dried-blood doors would open, and the child would glimpse the things that stepped out of Right Pulteney Street in the shadows, by the half-light of a waning moon. Some of the children fainted. One fell stone dead, or so the story goes. Some lost control of their faculties. Some lost their minds. But all, without fail, went very, very white, like they themselves were the corpses. If

they were able, they backed away from the street and ran home. And they never told a single soul, living or dead, what they had seen in the dark on Pulteney Street. ∎ That once-in-a-generation child was the only one who knew the answer to the town’s unasked question. They saw the stiff-limbed figures open their doors. They saw the waxy skin and the clothes arranged funeral-parlor tidy. One side of the street, they saw, looked no different from the other. When the tenants of Right Pulteney Street got tired of being dead, they did just what left Pulteney did. They picked themselves up and moved across the street.

St. Mary’s Street // Norisha Quaicoe


The Shallows//Katie Wang


Don’t Walk Danielle Devillier My high school didn’t encourage students to walk. The administration sent out an annual notice alerting parents to the dangers of allowing their kids to walk to school along Edgewater Drive, even if they lived nearby. The students enforced the no-walking rule in a different way. The social capital of my high school was cars, and its social heart was the parking lot. Before the first bell and after the last, juniors and seniors sat together in their cars or congregated around them. It was only through friends with cars that I was permitted access — Forced to practice my driving on the way to school, I arrived on Edgewater Drive on a Friday morning in late April with a backache from gripping the steering wheel too hard and a headache from my nightmare about falling off the I-4 bridge. I rolled over the speed bumps inside the gate, and my mom took my place in the driver’s seat. I walked to class on rubbery legs. I like riding in cars. The passenger’s seat gives me an armored, cushioned feeling, even if the driver is a teenager with road rage. But cars don’t want to be driven by me any more than I want to be driving them, in the way a horse doesn’t want to carry an anxious rider. Reagan, whose passenger seat I frequented, arrived late to first period with an iced coffee. “There was an accident on Lee Road,” she said by way of explanation, if not apology, to our teacher. He nodded. There was always an accident on Lee. — Florida is not a walkable state. It’s too hot, too exposed, and too sprawling, like you might fall into the sky if you aren’t tied down by something heavy. Its highways and towns spread like they’re melting. And it’s too dangerous, not because of kidnapping or lightning or alligators, but because of a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks and streetlights. Florida ranks number two in the country for highest pedestrian deaths.

If we can help it, we don’t walk. — “Coffee?” Reagan asked, unlocking her car. “Yeah.” She hit the speed bumps like she wanted to take flight from them, and a friend in a passing car flipped us off. We passed Lee, and I looked for signs of the accident. All that was left was the glitter of glass in the road. Reagan asked me if I wanted a ride home. “No, thanks,” I said, and wiped my hands on my skirt, tension creeping back into my shoulders. “My mom’s on her way. I have to practice driving.” “Well,” she said, “it’s better than walking.” — We don’t walk if we can help it, but some people can’t help it. Students walk Edgewater. The homeless walk 441. Sex workers walk Orange Blossom Trail. In 2014, the Florida Department of Transport created new safety policies and installed accessible pedestrian signals in Orlando. Pedestrian deaths continue to increase. — We pulled into our usual spot in the parking lot the Dunkin’ Donuts shared with a bar called Spatz, passing a motionless truck. It roared to life and reversed in our direction just as Reagan shut her door. “You just fucking cut me off,” the driver yelled, redfaced. He matched his truck in size and volume. “Sorry,” I said, and started walking, glass crunching beneath my shoes. Reagan turned. “You weren’t moving,” she said. “Please fuck off.” The engine made a noise like a small explosion and the smell of gas flooded the parking lot. He accelerated backward towards us, and for a moment I was a very small, soft bug about to be crushed under the wheels of an ugly truck. Reagan pulled me behind the Mini Cooper. Whether he’d meant to hit us or only make a show, he didn’t try again. We walked in the shadow of the building to the door, 9

and my eyes started to water, a panic response that I’d picked up when first learning to drive. “That’s a Spatz parking spot!” he shouted. “I’ll have your fucking car towed!” “You do that,” Reagan called back, and let the door shut behind us. She ordered her second iced coffee of the day while I watched the red truck through the window. It stalled another minute, then pulled away. — No one meant for the school parking lot to be exclusive, but it was. Encasing ourselves in metal and glass didn’t seem like shutting people out, but letting favorites in. The parking lot conspired to separate us in the way Florida’s geography does. The state refuses to accommodate walkers. Those who have cars are in by nature. Some of those who don’t are in by invitation. And the rest have no place in the parking lot. Who’s in, and who’s out walking?

Pace//Ingyeong Kang


— “Can’t freaking walk anywhere,” Reagan said, stirring her coffee. My leg jiggled under the table, either from caffeine or my anxiety over the drive home. “Remember sophomore year when we almost got hit by a semi?” We’d been waiting to cross the street to get pizza. It hopped the curb right in front of the high school, then honked at us like we were in the way. “Ah,” she said. “Florida.” — The accessible pedestrian signals were installed beside an exit to Interstate 4. They communicate in non-visual formats to accommodate blind or low-vision pedestrians. When it’s safe to walk, they beep quietly. But before that, they play a pleasant recording of a man’s voice, over and over: “DON’T WALK.”

god of all religions//Camille Bustos Bismonte

kampung warna warni | the colorful town// Camille Bustos Bismonte

dunia kita tidak sebesar daun kelor | our world isn’t as big as a moringa leaf//Camille Bustos Bimonte 11

Class Notes, 1996 Jimmy McNamara • Yvonne Sandell married Tucker Sellari at the Alumni Club in Boston, Massachusetts. We are happy to report that there were many married Hoya couples in attendance: Dennis and Kristen Thompson (’97), Brendan and Mary-Kate Reid, and Larry and Polly Herz. The happy couples danced the night away overlooking a particularly expensive view of the city. Jennifer Katz also attended, alone, and left the festivities early. • After reading The Happiness Project, Judy Martin was inspired to write a letter to her freshman year roommate, Cara Stein, with whom she had lost touch over the past 20 years. The two met briefly for coffee in Pasadena, California. While they both made the decision not to continue their friendship further, the two women received the necessary closure for what was mutually described as a disappointing sophomore year roommate selection process. • Marc Altman, the former Director of Hillary for President who generously found the time to be the face of our October 2016 issue, has announced he is now an entrepreneur and/or consultant. He writes that he is “extremely flexible to have lunch dates with anyone from the Class of 1996.” • Cindy Susman is now engaged to Jason Wu, who recently sold his biometrics startup to Google in June of 2016 for 1.2 billion dollars. We all remember Cindy as the most bubbly of cheerleaders! Jason tutored Cindy throughout the four years at Georgetown, but their relationship was strictly platonic. Cindy reached out to Jason after reading about his entrepreneurial success on TechCrunch. Sparks flew at their first date, and Cindy says she just knew within minutes that Jason was the one! We are happy to report that this couple does not follow stereotypical gender roles – it was Cindy who proposed to Jason in August of 2016! Cindy has been an actress in Los Angeles for fifteen years, even landing a recurring role in the 2002 12

season of One Life to Live, but “plans to put my acting career on hold for now to be a stay at home Mom for our future kids.” • Jonathan Tyler accepted a mid-level corporate associate position at Covington & Burling representing such clients as Uber and Amazon. His student debt load remains at $355,672.34 but he “hopes to conquer this financial challenge through Big Law in the next decade!” We all remember Jonathan on campus leading the fight for janitors to receive a pay raise, and we have no doubt he will conquer this new challenge! • Rita Campbell (’96, MED ’00) had a fundraiser at her estate in Ridgewood, New Jersey. For those counting, this is her fourth property in the past four years. Deborah Trekman, who rents a studio in Queens, attended without donating the recommended amount. • Lydia Riley (’96, LAW ’99) has taken a leave of absence from practicing law at Skadden to take care of her one child. In just nine months, she has ascended the ranks from Room Parent to the Acting Vice President of the Greenwich PTA, is now on a first-name basis with the Superintendent, and her child has been appropriately transferred to the accelerated learning program. • Theodore and Cathy Lieberman just bought a vacation home in West Tisbury. Cathy writes, “We want visitors! Seriously, there are nine bedrooms upstairs so we have the room!” Count this Happy Hoya in! But remember to pack warm clothes. Cathy warns, “It may be the summer, but it gets super cold at night because we are right on the ocean. Brr!” Fellow Hoyas, PLEASE send me your updates at Your exciting life updates help me cope with my chronic Seasonal Affective Disorder and overall feelings of loneliness at night. Until next issue, Hoya Saxa!


Healy Fall//John Picker

Ode to a Midterm Exam John Scudero No matter how we may prevent our fear, With days, or weeks, spent tearing through our notes, The hellish trial, as it stalks ever near, Ne’er fails to push our hearts into our throats. Oh wicked day! You draw here far too soon! And all the days still pass as slow as pitch, But when they pass, no student is immune To panic’d dread, and thus you do ‘enrich’ Our minds, with angst and lack of clarity Abound, no logic to exist within Our heads, replacéd with disparity! And all the while our patience wearing thin. Although, I must admit, between us two, I haven’t really studied yet. Have you?

London Eye Pt. 1//Alexandra Bowman


Good Bye and Thank You//Norisha Quaicoe

London Eye Pt. 4 //Alexandra Bowman 15

In June 16, I was wandering around London indiscriminately. I studied Hinduism in the past, I’d never seen such a display of faith in perhad a friend to meet later that afternoon, but had put aside a few hours son, and I was welcomed into the festivities with open arms and smiling to get lost and see the city. I turned a street corner and was greeted with faces. This is part of a series of a few moments from that day. a plethora of people, color, and music. It was Rathayatra, a festival celcaptured on Mamiya 6 + Porta 400. ebrated by various Hindu traditions, in which majestic chariots, representing Jagannātha and his family are proceeded through the streets, —Theodore Atwood accompanied by his devotees and revelry. In the words of a man I met at the event, “All year round a person needs to go to the temple to see the lord but at Rathayatra the lord comes out for the day.“ Though I had

Theodore Atwood


Theodore Atwood


Rainy Day in Cambridge//Norisha Quaicoe


Stiletto Silhouette//Kirk Zieser

Golden Idol//Sonia Vohra

Temple Run//Sonia Vohra 19

Chasing Amber R.S. Doad

Unfastening the locks of her rays She awoke from her blissful slumber where the clouds padded her dreams and the night’s comforting blanket dried her tears

Cruel were her lashes, blinking black flashes And swarming swords fatal to any armor teasing, taunting they swayed leaving luscious red rubies in their wake

With a jolt life’s current returned to its fervor As the boulders were reminded of their scars and the trunks of their long-lost limbs and the flowers covered in delicate frothy lace of their bygone children swept off by the wind

Gems which time would turn clear And embed in their place memories diamonds of eternal sparkle and perpetual warmth

Underneath her gaze Tinted with the colors of summer radiant dripping jewels of amber lay her breathless martyrs and the crescents of monster mountains twinning their snow-capped peaks with her virtuous green pools Craggy were their slopes and hungry their mouths But her path failed to falter, as cliff after cliff was vanquished her soldiers burdened and stooped, daring and dutiful dug their boots into the raspy terrain

Angkor Sunrise//Sonia Vohra 20 18

And then finally the Sun rested its lids Its irises churning globes of molten gold and swirls of flowery emerald wreaths bid farewell to the weary travelers Who shuttling back to pastures old Filled with chests of her treasures the travelers loggen legged and strained gazed towards the stars and their boards Yearning for one last glance Of the basilisk that was her gaze their cries fell on deaf ears as petrified soldiers were of no use to her ever willing to be called back into her world she sank into her home beyond the clouds

The Sighs of Time R.S. Doad Two caravans set out Across the leagues of desert dunes One to the East, One to the West In an age greatly before this And thus shadow pervaded day So as to make night’s soothing embrace A strangling throttle Of breaths forever lost Forgotten was the friendship Scattered laid the chains of former alliance Bobbing windswept they ambled Through fate’s pooled mirage

In an innocent stupor Had the moon proclaimed its pride And thus shackling the sun’s selflessness Mistaken were they both To part over such a trifle As ignorant is the observer who did view, The moon’s beauty in absence of the sun’s blaze With the scorching heat fashioning a crossroads They did pause, to turn about, and clasp hands Turning the sandy plains green with lush life And time’s sighs with love’s laughs

Try as they might, damned were the memories To awash resolute and unyielding With the amber anguish of separation Forgotten had they That those adjoined by His scythe Risk the wrath of time’s sighs

21 19

Field//Sajjad Alvee


Today’s Catch//Sajjad Alvee

Haul//Sajjad Alvee

Trio//Sajjad Alvee


Wisdom Matt Phillips Berries// Zoya Mahmood

Peach//Zoya Mahmood 24

That’s always been a hard one, the summer, she says & peers out over the vast fields. Sun devouring the orchards.

Bitten Rot Panna Gattyan

it’s just like biting into an apple that’s rotting, or climbing a tree crawling with ants. in fact the tree itself is crawling, its roots raking up new mud for the ghosts to not-sleep in. it’s like biting into an apple that’s rotting and then chucking it into recycling. it regenerates blindly (softly, and then rough to touch) and those who watch for the shift go mad trying. it’s like biting with all your teeth all at once, greedy with time and with pleasure. it’s like biting into an apple that’s rotten, a rotten apple, an appled rot, a rot that is appling and every time you bite you lose your mind a little.

Taking on the Broccoli//Deborah Han


Apple Picking in Autumn Matt Phillips All the proud fathers must go back home eventually—otherwise, there is nowhere to roost. Some things need order; this is one of those things. The men by their conduct mark such necessities: wake, shave, sweat, eat & sleep. Without it, there is no order. A man can do anything he wants, so long as he keeps the ways of things. A man can sleep anywhere but he only roosts in his own home. He’s only a drunkard if he cannot get back home at night. Sometimes, something happens to forebode a loss in order. A breakage in the chain. A farm-boy talks like Cicero & stands like Rutherford B. Hayes. The fathers don’t mind this, but they do scorn it. Life here is too short for dreams. If the boughs of the apple trees yield fruit this autumn, it is not an act of God, just cause for eating apples. And it is not a reason to dream of going away. There will come another storm before anyone has the time: all the proud fathers know this. And so things go on in this manner in the town that fears Death, as all towns do: He comes gaunt & thin to their homesteads, plainly attired in a grey suit with pleats to be let out. Inside, He is poured coffee & broods patiently at table. Who among them is ready to go?

Fall Leaves//Zoya Mahmood


Father’s Day Stephanie Humphries It’s strange sometimes to hear my father’s words emerge. To no one in particular I’ll say, “Don’t worry—we’ve got it made in the shade!” or “That person is nothing but a trifling piss ant.” More phrases unuttered but not forgotten, like photos stored only in the mind’s eye. Drawn to train tracks, it’s not nostalgia of travel that brings me there or musings on Euclidean geometry (sorrow for parallel life paths that never crossed my own). Rather, it’s the strength, consistency, reassurance of trains. I often wave to the engineer, knowing full well he is not my father, but knowing, like my father, he works long hours to deliver what is required, then hurries home to where all the sacrifices make sense. Odd, maybe, how I occasionally visit strangers’ graves. I think about their lives, read their dates in the headstones. They were someone’s child, possibly sibling, spouse, parent. I leave them flowers of the type I wish I could give those who have filled these roles in my own life but are now too far-flung or departed. Hoping that love given here or there is somehow passed along, finding its way to those we hold in our hearts— which is another way of saying memory.


The Next Sire Henry Silver

I am now to abscond, but, before, they must see, For today my dear mother, the excellent she, I forswear, for my father, the erudite he, Is to sire his lone son, the reverent me, For I know that such is all he can be.

Shimmering Sunset//Kirk Zieser

California Sky//Zoya Mahmood 28

Kings and Queens Courtney Lee Michael Jackson is dead! I see my mother shake her head, and her mother chop another onion, and her mother talk to the television, And Farrah Fawcett too, no telling who’s next. It is summertime in Florida which means orchids on the table and tea in ice clinking glass and heat flashes on asphalt cul-de-sac where I run barefoot to dinner.

You best watch where you going, girl, ‘specially in my kitchen.

He, too, was some mother’s child.

Me, my mother, her mother, and her mother, four generations tallying two hundred fifteen years, six dice tallying thirty-six, one man in the mirror tallying fifty.

Those dice ain’t gon’ roll theyselves out. An’ blow on ‘em for good luck, you hear?

I watch their hands tapping felt, shaking cup, and keeping score to the rhythm of the radio. Hands that knew where to go and what to do, wrinkled leathery hands, skin of elephant, hands that once fed me, bathed me.

YAHTZEE I got Yahtzee!

Our eldest mother beams from her throne,

I get to sit at the grown-up table because I am of age, thrusting a cane, her scepter, in victory. The dead king serenades us. It is the last round I play with her. my weight creaking the wicker chair, beside me, a rim of crystal glass smudged with the blood All hail the Queen of Die. red of an old woman’s lipstick, still wet. My mothers invite me to ladies’ Yahtzee night,

That is, if you ‘gree to set the game.

I find the family treasures, worn and quiet, tucked under the dusty covers of a cardboard box— green felt and rawhide cup and soft edged dice— and I hold them as I’ve seen my mother do before.



Stephanie Humphries Many of this mute ground cricket species invade my basement apartment one by one to die. First, their movement slows, then the long jumping legs fall off. Sometimes there is a stain of blood or digestive fluids. They curl up in the end, one antenna still moving, smelling, feeling— lingering, grasping onto here or already exploring cricket heaven there? I want them gone, but I would also like to lessen their suffering, make it easier for them to pass to the cricket afterlife. But how? I thought of playing cricket music but I don’t know what the chirps mean and might pick a scary song.

Light//Norisha Quaicoe 30 30

It was my mother I first asked about death after staring at myself brushing my hair in my parents’ bedroom mirror. She told me not to think about it. When she was keeping so many people alive as a nurse in small-town nursing homes, I asked her how she could deal with all the death. “It’s easier to see someone who has had a full life die than to work in pediatrics and see children die,” she replied. How, I wondered, can a person bear to watch anyone die? Years later, I regret not being there to hold my parents’ hands as they passed. So I just let them die on their own, then scoop them up, the hard exoskeleton of the thorax crunchy in the paper towel, the hexagonal compound eyes staring up at me, the unwilling undertaker who takes small steps at grasping her own mortality while reluctantly witnessing the final, slight breaths, momentarily mourning all the miniature, not so trivial deaths.


On Losing Gracefully Matt Phillips

The little boy from the neighborhood who frequents the red railway station to sum the numbers on the boxcars has died an experiential death. His friends, the brave & ambitious youngsters of the Whitcomb Brewers, no longer walk along the train-tracks balancing bats upon their noses. But still they gather each Sunday in the field just past the gas station: the new pitcher, they say, is quiet & the one who loved him most.

DC Underground//Katie Wang


Hopscotch Stephanie Humphries Two girls invite a neighbor boy over to play hopscotch in the parking lot. If his friends were home, he’d be playing soccer, running over top of the girls from time to time. Today he’s grateful for the invitation. The two friends explain the rules in Bulgarian, but the actions are universal. The boy mimics their arms and hands, bending low to pitch his rock. Not quite right, the girls say. Try again. Do it our way. The game begins and I smile, seeing the boy struggling to stay within lines he’s never noticed before.


the invitation//Camille Bustos Bismonte

buram tak selalu tak bermakna | blurry things are not always clear//Camille Bustos Bismonte

the rendezvous//Camille Bustos Bismonte


read at 23:59//Camille Bustos Bismonte

First Kiss

Stephanie Humphries He drew a rose and slid it between the slits of my locker in eighth grade. Then came the notes asking for a hug. No, I explained, hugs were inappropriate on school property. The popular girls noticed him paying attention to me, soon threatened to fight me. But at a birthday party, he found me all alone, exiting the bathroom. He coaxed me back inside and, there, he kissed me. I loved him, in a way old people think young people are incapable of. A love as warm and easy as wiping milk off your mouth with the back of your hand. Our angry houses hurt us both. We’d console each other, dream together on the phone after everyone had gone to sleep. Those late nights, lying on the bedroom floor awaiting the ring with my finger on the switch hook, it was then just the two of us, caring for each other in ways we didn’t yet have words for.


We Were River Monsters Christopher Stein Up the river with you, I was filling myself full of drink. That’s why I stumbled up so many mossy rocks, the water sloshing in the basin, edging at the brink. I put my arms around your waist, my cheeks pink with anticipation for the hike up a mountain of granite blocks. Up the river with you, I was filling myself full of drink. You laughed, said there are handles, made my heart sink. At the top of the river now, feet wet, we pulled off our socks, the water sloshing in the basin, edging at the brink. But the way you looked at me—that fucking blink, that ‘Oh!’ of surprise—pulled me from peace into paradox. Up the river with you, I was filling myself full of drink. Then the wine fog cleared; I found that final missing link! You looked past me, you pointed out a passing fox. Below, the water sloshing in the basin, edging at the brink. I realized then that I was talking out of sync, my voice drowned by the timeless ticking of the clocks: up the river with you, I was filling myself full of drink, the water sloshing in the basin, edging at the brink.


berpetualang di surga yang tersembunyi di kota batu | adventuring in hidden paradise in the town of Batu week 17-6//Camille Bustos Bismonte

Lush Tranquility//Kirk Zieser


Palos Verdes//Zoya Mohamood

Something out of a Dr. Seuss Book//Kirk Zieser 38

Struck//Kirk Zieser

Paraklausithyron Sasha Jovanovski

Sitting now below your window— One whom I would have as lover— Weary from the mountain air, I Come to make my case. In the pasture I was lonely, Singing tales for dimwit sheep who Flicked their ears and said my song was Lacking goddessgrace. Fuck the sheep! I sing for you, my Dandelion, white with wishes— I wish you might kneel before me Crowned with crocheted lace. Come with me, we’ll scale the mountain, Free of prying ovine eyes—let’s Ride away where even nymphs won’t Find our hiding place.


Palm Readings Courtney Lee She opened her fists over wine dyed tablecloth in hopes of being seen through, made known to herself. Oh, to believe anyone could break through the boundaries of skin, and eye the truer self beneath—glass encased and still. Yet life flows ruddy through our wrinkles and creases as rivers running red, tepid to the touch, opaque in-sight, so if we can know anything at all, it’s that our bare bodies seldom make us naked to the other; at best we read between the lines of our palms, make sense of uncertain fog in crystal balls that prove nothing. Let us shatter the glass, trace our selves in the shards, then press against me as close as our borders will allow and learn me under gray bed covers where we will spin dreams unremembered, taking the future into our own hands.


Rayograph//Norisha Quaicoe


The Enamored Trucker to His Swain Henry Silver Come live with me and be my love, And we shall many splendors see: Valleys, groves, hills, docks, and fields All seen through a stained windshield. And we shall spy the limpid creek, While at the shepherd’s herd we’ll peek, Who shallow rivers throng and seek, ‘Cause, Baby, I’m your truckin’ freak! And I shall show thee plots of soil, Where sedentary farmers toil, And many glistening, effulgent foils, Which reminds me, Love, go check the oil! And we shall many truck stops see, Where fetid, filthy toilets be, To which ungentrified highways lead. I said before thou shouldst have peed. And greasy food on soggy trays And country music’s merciless lays Are to abound each night and day In a lavish, ample, rich buffet. And I shall drench thee with prepackaged food, Of the best quality wist or viewed, With plenteous gouts of suet and grease, To feed two hundred gaggles of geese. The teamsters’ swains shall dance and sing For thy delight each fall and spring: If these delights make good drama, Then live with me, my truckin’ mama!


Singapore Through the Looking Glass//Sonia Vohra

Meaning of Travel//Ingyeong Kang 43

Marquee//Zoya Mahmood


The Promenade//Zoya Mahmood

Trees//Zoya Mahmood

Pittsburgh Skyline//Zoya Mahmood 45

Stupid Love Haley Resnick

Love is stupid. Love is for the weak. The ones who feel the need to be accepted by others. Love at first sight. Please. Does that not sound ridiculous. Those who are in love make me laugh. They are accepting endless misery. Wait. Hold on. What’s that? He likes my poem? Did he just quote Shakespeare? Did he just call me beautiful? Wait. Love is the best thing that can ever happen. Those who doubt it just don’t know.

Mutual Curiosity//Kirk Zieser


London Eye Pt. 3//Alexandra Bowman


Growing Christopher Stein I spend my nights planting flowers in no-man’s land and my days ripping them out root-and-stem I have dirt under my fingernails they look like black scythes and they cut through earth and sometimes when I am angry they cut through skin too it’s fine that’s how I teach other people not to hold me too tightly or hope for me too fervently it’s a waste My mother loves hydrangeas and so those are what I plant in the shattered ground between warring factions it’s eerie how in the moonlight the scarred ground where the shells have taken lives looks like freshly tilled soil waiting to be planted with new things and the fingers and toes sent flying by concussive waves can be green tubers waiting for a memory to grow inside

itu manis | it was sweet//Camille Bustos Bismonte 48

Flowers//Zoya Mahmood

Bursting Color//Kirk Zieser

Pop//Kirk Zieser

At Work//Kirk Zieser

hidup kita tidak sesederhana itu | our lives aren’t as simple as this//Camille Bustos Bismonte 49

Like a glass of coffee Camille Bustos Bismonte like a glass of coffee we, too, were fragile measuring our lives with coffee spoons

but your words, they were sweet and the rumbling at last, would retreat

upon noticing the cold that began to settle our clammy hands clumsily held our glass

into the sound of the grinding of the beans and the consistency of it all was comforting

hoping the warmth, would somehow, someway help us close the chasm between our seats

as we met over our empty cups late into the night, I came to the realization: I might need one glass more

your order, a black coffee I could see into it forever, drown in its bitterness, too and oh— the coffee would gargle in a sickening way the table would melt into the floor and then the coffee, like a swirling black hole, of empty promises, empty words a bubbling cauldron of a conglomeration of the ways you had let me drown until there was nothing but the cold, no, hot, angry nothingness


ruang di antara jari kita | the spaces between our fingers// Camille Bustos Bismonte

seperti segelas kopi, kita, jiga, rapuh kita mengukur hidup kita dengan sendok kopi

tapi kata-katamu, itu manis dan gemuruh akhirnya, akan mundur

setelah memperhatikan hawa dingin yang mulai mereda tangan kita yang keruh dengan kikuk memegang

ke dalam suara dari penggilingan biji kopi dan konsistensi dari itu semua sangat menghibur

kita berharap kehangatan entah bagaimana, entah bagaimana, akan bantu kita menutup jurang antara kursi kita

saat kita bertemu di cangkir kosong kita, sampai larut malam, aku menyadari:

pesananmu, kopi hitam, aku bisa melihat selamanya, tenggelam dalam kepahitannya juga dan oalah, kopinya

aku mungkin perlu segelas lagi

akan berkumur dengan cara yang memuakkan meja akan mencair ke lantai dan, kemudian kopi seperti lubang hitam yang berputar-putar janji-janji kosong, kata-kata kosong, sebuah kuali bergelembung

konglomerasi cara kau membiarkan aku tenggelam sampai tidak ada yang lain selain dingin nggak, panas ketiadaan marah

Keajaibban Satu Malam di Masjid Tiban (Overnight Miracle of the Masjid Tiban)//Camille Bustos Bismonte


Transposon Sania Ali

the rain is falling on my head and the drops seep through my skull like thoughts of you condensing into matter

between my thumbs is a message you once wrote me encased in the glass of a bottle bobbing away from the sea ripened blackberries bleed into my veins and reach my heart only to turn red again, virgin like my love for you

the grains of sand can’t keep time as we traverse through ocean waves kept still by the sway of your hips and the firm press of our fingertips

Marooned//Sonia Vohra

we both have been here years before in this cabin engrained with maple memories of a time I once loved you like crimson ashes turning to fire

in the darkness of the morning you will lean in to kiss me with dew glistening on parted tulips heavy with water from yesterday’s rain

fresh salted pepper shrimps crackle on the grill as we toss our clothes away to go swimming in each other’s gaze

the rain is falling on my head and the drops seep through my skull like thoughts of you condensing into matter

you are pouring a bottle of merlot as I take a sip from your lips only to taste our love fermenting into nothing 52

Showboat//Sonia Vohra

Frozen Flame//Kirk Zieser


a sestina for the monolith that is our marriage Max Zhang

Four knocks on the doorframe and you open your eyes, exhaling. My body becomes your bandage: with your head enveloped by the angular flesh between my chin and my chest, you find solace in contact. Grian—radiant, solar—lives and dies: into the abyss, she emerges and returns. We wonder if she tires. I watch you bend the moral arc: you sleep, but for how long? You ask me about the prognosis, yet again. The lifespan: how long? My viscous breath sticking to my throat, the anxiety exhaling, my motherboard greasing with the familiar. Wonder how you will take it now. The mental machinery, enveloped in comfort, is interrupted by the bite of the lip. Honesty dies. We don’t know, I say, and the corners of your mouth betray you. There is a pause, and my brain fogs with a memory of you: perched on the edge of my couch, head tilted and your legs long, you grimace as your confidence in front of my father dies. Your words perform rhythmic gymnastics, never exhaling, their muscles tense as you tell him you love me. Enveloped in my arms hours later, your indignation is subservient to wonder.

Flower in the night//Ingyeong Kang 54

You grope for my hand and the hospital bed re-emerges. Wonder how we got here. You clutch my wrist and sleep suspends you once again in its quiet embrace. I, too, am silently enveloped by a dream state, its grip now manifest in artifacts and prophecies. Longsleeve shirts you wore. Longer sleeves you’re going to wear while exhaling dust mites and blood particles. Bad jokes you told. One thing that dies before your cerebrum is your politically correct shame. The dream that dies in your arms when you hold a baby for the first time, its mouth open, wonder personified into an ellipse and the jerk of the fingers. Me, exhaling, reminding you that we shall never have our own, our biology our Judas. You, researching surrogacy. You, now, barely holding your life let alone the long blanket of another. I conjure the wood and the Earth: you shall be enveloped and I will not cry, for I do not dignify the end. Your corpse, enveloped in velvet, shall melt back into the dirt. You know not when. With you dies arguments and kisses in dark rooms and your mother’s brownie recipe. Long will I ask myself: with knowledge of future and memory of past, what wonder is there in present? At your bedside, I am born. Am alive. Am Dead. You are living and not; yet, your lungs still demand desperately: inhaling, exhaling. For long nights have quieted us, rendered our bodies mere shells enveloped by the exhaling organ of time. Until death do us part. That message dies and I wonder: how did you love? Do you love? Will you love? Me? Us? You?

Fly to the dream//Ingyeong Kang 55

None of It Belongs Christopher Stein

Sometimes a person passes by you like an eye rhyme the sight of their face sends you walking into a telephone pole your gaze caught somewhere cross-eyed off over your shoulder and the person like a rhyme comes to you from the gloom but the voice it’s always the voice that melts illusion into memory a voice that says but does not see, a voice that reveals the too-high nose bridge, the too-full upper lip, the freckle below the left eye none of it belongs

Pittsburgh Sunset//Zoya Mohamood 56

Morning ‘Do//Kirk Zieser


The Bridge Fiona Kennedy Years end, and dreams fade, but you don’t, do you? I dreamed you first, I think, and met you in the middle of the bridge, driving alone at night. The streetlights flashed across the corners of my eyes, marking my speed like nautical knots. I left the ground alone, and drove on suspended above the bay, where the lights kept time until three of them flickered out before my eyes. I drove in darkness for a count of one. Two. Three. And then there was you. I felt you first, like eyes on the back of my neck that made me want to drive faster. Maybe because it was the middle of winter or maybe because the car was too empty, even of noise, with no music on for the first time in months, I went cold in my core and my shoulders rose up toward my ears. But please don’t think I never thought of you before. I often think of you when I drive over bridges, or when I see a window left open past sundown, even if the window isn’t mine. For two weeks I slept with all the lights on. On the third I transitioned to just one. I locked every door three times and never walked alone without sunglasses and headphones, twisting the cord like a talisman. For six months I slept in two shifts, waking in the night to stare stone-eyed at the ceiling for an hour or more, and my dreams were all sound and fury. But these were half-thoughts, fragment sentences that I spoke at your memory, half turned away. If I could have dreamed of you then you would have had no eyes. Once a year I drive through the night to the island. In an empty car on an empty road I have time to spare, and with soft music underwriting them my thoughts run deep and slow. As a rule, I always turn the music off when I drive across the bay, and if the air isn’t too cold I roll the windows down. I cross the bridge in twenty-four deep breaths, one for each month of the year just ending, one for each month in the year to come. I count in eight threes or six fours or two twelves. I keep time in streetlights so I don’t miss a breath. For six months I have been half awake. They say every face you see in your dreams is one that you have known. You 58

live across the ocean, out of my sight, never absent or present in my dreams. As I approached the bridge I remembered my rule and my twenty-four breaths, and half asleep in the rhythm I was sure that I could not reach the island in a car full of noise. I had not heard silence in half a year. January asks us to open the door and move on. When I reached the bridge at midnight, I turned the music off and I opened the windows. For three deep breaths I knew only air and light on the bay. I remembered another lifetime, a year ago or less, when I was the one who advised deep breaths and second chances, who knew how to listen, who, if asked, could define forgiveness. I listened to my next three breaths and remembered that I used to be kind but I couldn’t remember why. The middle lights of the bridge were fixed before my eyes and I counted them down as I gripped the wheel and breathed for a count of three. Two. One. And the lights went out. And I saw you. Did you ever pray? Did you ever wake up wrapped in sweat and skin and sin, and did you understand why? It was your hands on the wheel and your foot on the brake that left me halted in the middle of the bridge. I know because my hands haven’t been mine in six months, because it was you who wanted the doors locked and the ceiling watched, and because when I knew self-pity I knew you for the first time. The streetlights are glaring above my eyes in a never-ending line, and if I should go on breathing I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Peace of Mind//Ingyeong Kang


Another Labor Esther Kang There are many streetlamps here (mandated by state law) to light the broken cobblestones of the sidewalk. They hum against the vacuum of the early sky, globes of white power that burn blind-spots in her vision when she looks away. As she reaches the water’s edge, the wooden floorboards of the dock flex and strain underfoot. Before her, the Potomac writhes: black ropes of cedar-thick water, lunging and coiling over one another like the unbound necks of a hydra. The slim-bodied shell of a sculler slits through the muscular tangle, and for a moment, lays rest to the churning beast. But soon enough, it regenerates in a sprout of new disorder, and the fine wound from the rowing blade is quickly forgotten. Is this a picture of triumph? The hydra thrashes alive

Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish//Norisha Quaicoe


as it breathes, struggling to live with its many selves and its surplus of freedom, its multiplying lungs each drawing from the same buried heart. She imagines the mass of overworked organ, a rodent trapping the body-cave into the illusion of consciousness. It pulses at a lazy cadence, unaware of how its host has gone to war with its desperate selves, each fighting for its own meaning. A launch with a grinding motor lodges itself on the Arlington side of the river, pulsing up and down with every exhale that shudders upstream. A shade unfurls from the bobbing aquatic canister like a wisp of smoke, aiming a blurred prop over its head. The flash of light pierces the air like an arrow and catches her off guard, and she slips. The river swallows her in a womb. In unison, she hears:

Acid Lake//Sonia Vohra

I’ve never had a child before, but I know what it’s like to not have a child. It feels free, but the freedom that comes with being unmoored. This is not an unfamiliar feeling. On my birth (it sounds absurd, but this is how I was born)—I don’t remember first words; I remember being cut off, that is what I remember first. I remember loneliness and distance. My body was used to the pull of a rope (though I never felt bound), an inertia of safety. Now, my body is free, and separate. It reels, a directionless diffusion of identity, restless and anxious to explain its existence. And now here you are, my one body that will die a separate death. Like you, my mother made me. But now, I make myself every day; I am born every day, and every day, I remember cognizance, awareness, but mostly, a deep apartness. I remember selfness and individual power. But mostly, I remember being alone. I’ve never had a child before; I know what it’s like to carry nothing.

The water is cold; her limbs and fingers are a world of willpower away, and an anesthetic weight veils her skin. An instinctive panic begins to swell in response to her airless surroundings, but it ebbs with each passing current that entwines her with gentle tendrils. She could stay here, a universe of potential, a human zero. She is no one’s promise. The loneliness that used to haunt her evaporates in the frozen dark. Behind closed eyes, she imagines she is in space, a point of unforced matter. Nothing pulls, nothing shoves. Everything is still. She had always thought of herself as stillborn, a fossil of someone else’s future. And now, in the belly of the hydra, the Leviathan, the polluted vein of the Potomac, she finds solace in the absence of her creation.


The Swinging Tree//Sonia Vohra

Tropical Monet//Sonia Vohra 62

Golden Hour//Kirk Zeiser


Guna Yala//Sonia Vohra

Waves//Zoya Mohamood 64

Ocean //Zoya Mohamood

Volcanic Bloom//Kirk Zeiset 65

Jubilee Clara Ma The ballroom is where gilded chandeliers swing, Shining so bright as if stars of a night. The ceiling, spread with paintings of old days Depicts the same maidens underneath it, Though we are not clear like the Blue Danube, Nor shallow, nor see-through, we masquerade Together in full synchronization, Because, of course, it takes two to tango. I am but an actress who waltzes and Moves in a Dance Macabre, sorting lives; And each gesture and spin becomes a turn In an endless game of cards, of checkers. The cosmic waltz between black holes is nought Compared to the royal ball of the stars. I am Queen Aria of the moonlight. Rhythmic movement between assassins Is followed by song from the Grammofon; A violin somewhere starts to cry. And you, there standing in lack of disguise, Seem confused at my way of life. Have you Considered your own is likely the same? It does not matter. I will take your hand, My Sweet and Tender Beast. Knight, come, and See the knives beneath the silk and satin. Come watch as we move through the steps of the Minuet, the quadrille, and the pavane. And when you grow tired, feel free to go. I shall not become weary of the one Merry Go Round of Life. This pirouette Has been all I ever knew; From the day I was born, I have had and known a mask. So the waltz continues in royal perse. I live a Carmen Fantasy of night. Stay with us in dance; Do not be afraid. You’ll come to like the blank smiles, stuck at Three in the Morning. Delay your leaving.


String Lights//Zoya Mahmood 67

Thundershake Heerak Christian Kim In the tumult of nature’s magnitude I experienced the hidden torrents Of my own affective intensity That lies encrypted under a neutral expression Was it the nature pulsating?’ Distraught by the cosmic gravitational pull? I felt the quiver in the short hairs on my arm And wondered how it would be for me to howl like that In the moments of disquietude I felt strange comfort Because something else in the world Was more upset than my shivering heart


Light Work//Katie Wang 69

Everything the Light Touches//Sonia Vohra

Sulfer Reverie//Sonia Vohra


The Mountain Christopher Cassidy I started building the mountain on a chilly Sunday in November. The garden needed to be cleared, so I went outside at around three to finish the job. Only months before, the flowers had been in full bloom, brightening up the backyard. Now, only their dried-up shells remained, bent over and strewn across the ground, victims of time and nature. When I got to the garden, I leaned down to pull out the first stem. Judging from the loose soil, it wouldn’t take much to rip it out. However, right before I pulled, something caught my eye. On the ground next to my feet lay three stones. They were just regular-looking stones with no special qualities or features. In fact, by some standards, they may have even been considered ugly. One of them was rust-colored, the other had a hole, and the third looked like it had been hit with a hammer. But together, they leaned against each other to form a miniature peak. How curious, I thought, how they leaned like that. I bent down to take a closer look. Valleys were visible, and craters dotted their surfaces. On one face, a small patch of moss even resembled a field. A couple feet from the stones, I noticed another rock laying on the ground. It was smaller than the other ones and had an even uglier look, but when I picked it up, I felt a sudden urge. I walked back to the pile and leaned it against the rust-colored stone. Now, the tiny peak consisted of four stones. The sky hinted at dusk, so I decided to head back inside. I glanced at the stones one more time and then left the garden. The next day, I finished my paperwork and came home from work earlier than usual. I had just poured myself a drink and loosened my tie, when I saw the pile of stones from the kitchen window. With drink in hand, I went outside to take another look at them. They appeared just as I left them, valleys and canyons in all. A couple of ants scurried along, but nothing more. I

was just about to leave when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw more stones laying in the back of the garden. They weren’t laying together, but rather scattered under a fence. I walked over and, for the hell of it, picked one up. It wasn’t bad looking—it had a few shiny flecks and a nice triangular shape. Slowly, I walked back and placed the new stone on the pile. A cave now existed on one side, and a ridge formed on another. I put down my drink and walked back to the loose stones. This time, I picked one up with each hand and carried them back to the pile. I placed each stone with the others and then went back for more. I completed this cycle over and over, and the pile became taller and wider. Soon, stones became scarce, and I scoured the garden for more, crawling under trees and digging beneath shrubs. If a rock was larger than a quarter, it was mine. Once again, the sky became dark, so I decided to leave. The pile was up to my knees now, and wider than a twinsized bed. I walked through the garden one more time and then left. A week passed. Work was busy, so I didn’t have much free time. I only saw the pile early in the morning or after I came home. Other matters filled my mind, and I didn’t set a single foot in the backyard all week. Then, one night while I was leaving the office, I accidentally backed my car into a wall. The wall separated my office from the neighboring office, and jutted out slightly into the parking lot. When I stepped out to check the damage, I discovered the wall was actually made of stone. For all the years I had worked there, I had never noticed it. After all, it was just a stone wall. About five stones laid on ground beneath my back bumper. They must have become loose when I hit them. I bent down to put them back, but then stopped. I looked to my left and my right, and then opened my trunk. There was a dent from the impact, but I ignored it. Quickly, I loaded the stones, closed the trunk, and drove away. When I got home, I unloaded the stones, walked them 71

Too Little Too Late//Sonia Vohra

to the back yard, and placed them on the pile. These stones were larger than all of the others, so I had to reconfigure parts of the pile to fit them in. When I finished, I stopped to admire my work. Ridges now cut across the formation, and a steep cliff overlooked the east face. I quickly ran to the shed and grabbed the hose. With some work, a waterfall soon appeared. The next day, I took more stones from the wall. Nobody said anything about the dent, probably because they had never noticed the wall either. On my way home, I also stopped at the hardware store to buy a lamp. I needed it to work at night. And so it went. Every night for the next month, I took home some stones, hauled them into the backyard, and arranged them in the pile. By Thanksgiving, the pile was up to my shoulders and, by Christmas, it was far over my head. I constantly went back to the store for more supplies. Extension cords, buckets, ladders—all of these things proved more necessary every day. To avoid being completely obvious, I only took stones 72

from one end of the stone wall at a time. A keen observer would notice the wall becoming two feet shorter every day, but no office worker would ever see the change. Eventually, the wall became a half of its original size, then a third, and then a quarter. Finally, by the end of January, it was gone. About that time, my neighbors began to take note of my progress. “Whatcha building in your backyard?” asked my neighbor, Bill, while I was unloading groceries from my car. “Oh, just a mountain,” I responded. “Is that so?” he said, laughing a bit. “Then what’s its name?” I hadn’t thought about a name. Until just now, it was only a pile of rocks. “I’ll have to get back to you on that, Bill,” I said. “Oh, alrighty then,” he said, walking away. When I was a kid, my grandfather once told me a story about a cowboy who became lost in the desert. It went like this: One day, the cowboy was sitting in a saloon when a dashing young woman walked inside. From the moment he

saw her, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. By chance, she sat next to him at the bar and, soon enough, they were talking to each other. The cowboy was an experienced cattle rancher, and he knew he had to leave soon to take a job from a friend. But, since the woman was in front of him, he decided to hang back for a little bit. The two ended up spending the night together and, in the morning, she told him she was going to Texas. She left, but he couldn’t seem to forget her. He went to the cowboy station, but his friend had left. He was too late. With no work, he decided to find the girl in Texas. He rode for a week, asking people if they had seen the girl everywhere he stopped. Finally, he met the girl in a cantina in Juarez. She remembered him, and they spent another night together. In the morning, a local rancher asked the cowboy if he wanted work. The cowboy said no—he thought he would stay with the girl instead. But when he returned to the room, she was gone again. She left a note saying she had business in Mexico. On his horse, his last friend, he rode after her, stopping for nothing. After three days, his horse couldn’t run anymore. At high noon, the horse fell over and

Nurtured in Lava//Kirk Zeiser

died. Now, the cowboy was alone in the desert, without any food, water, or other people. His beard was overgrown, and he barely resembled the man that he was mere weeks before. He didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t remember the rest of the story. My grandfather never said if the cowboy regretted his decisions. My boss caught me in late February. Someone was buying the building, and they realized the wall was missing during the evaluation. They checked the security cameras and saw it was me who took it, step by step, two feet at a time. They offered to not press charges if I left without severance. I accepted and cleaned out my cubicle. Now that I had all the time in the world, I spent every day in the backyard building the mountain. I had previously ordered two tons of stones from a local quarry, so I had plenty of material to work with. At night, I planned the next stages of construction. I sketched out a grand design that included cirques, ârretes, and even a small cave. I would need much more stone, but that didn’t matter. I figured it would take me another six


months, so I sold my TV and couch to support me while I yelled at me. “Hey man, I don’t know what you’re trying to worked. do here with your ‘art’, but you should just quit right now. Unbeknownst to me, the mountain had become a talking Get a damn life and stop annoying the rest of us.” He evenpoint for locals. Bill must have brought it up at the Rotary tually left, and I went back to work. Club or something. Some people thought it was cool and Now, in late April, the mountain measures sixty feet interesting. “That’s awesome man, go for it,” said one of tall. I have my cave, and a few of the other features are almy high school classmates when I saw him at the gas station. most done. In truth, I get lonely sometimes in my backyard. Others, though, condemned the mountain. “He shouldn’t I don’t know what I’m going to do after I finish the current do that,” I heard one woman say to another in the supermar- stage. I might do more, I might not. I’m not really sure. I like ket. “It’s a waste of time and it’s ugly. Who does he even building the mountain, but I think5 I could do other things. think he is?” One day, someone even came to my house and It’s not like the mountain is everything I am, right? what I’m going to do after I finish the current stage. I might do more, I might not. I’m not really sure. I like building the mountain, but I think I could do other things. It’s not like the mountain is everything I am, right?


Hoarder, Interrupted Jimmy McNamara Debbie suggests starting with one drawer. She says it’s better to clean one small area than attempt too much and give up. She once told us to meet in pairs. This brings accountability, she said. I was paired with Cathy, a newcomer who lived three towns away. Cathy needed accountability in getting rid of paper. Most of the women at Declutterer’s Group drive in from distant towns. I think I’m the only local. I arrived to her big house fifteen minutes late. I had to stop to use the bathroom at McDonald’s. Cathy mentioned in Group she used her bathrooms for additional closet space by hanging clothes on the shower rod, and I didn’t want to

Cambridge Market//Norisha Quaicoe

intrude. Her house was just as big as the houses featured at the Annual Winter House Tours. I love touring big homes. I’m really good at knowing what to compliment. But I knew better than to ask for a tour. I’m not tacky. She ushered me into a room completely filled with stacks and stacks of newspapers. A small pathway between the ceiling-high stacks led to a stack-filled couch. We both stood in this pathway in silence. I reminded Cathy that Debbie suggests removing an object if we want to bring a new object into our homes. I slowly placed a newspaper from 1986 into the trash, but Cathy quickly moved it back. I knew then we wouldn’t be de-cluttering. And I wouldn’t be getting a tour.


Cathy suddenly remembered her daughter’s soccer game. I told her my niece might be on her team. My sister lived in the same town, I said. She then started asking questions about my sister. Too many questions, I thought. I later realized she probably thought I was going to spread her paper problem, which I would never do. That’s a violation of Group’s confidentiality rules. She never did return to Group. And she never returned the favor of helping me stay accountable. One time it snowed, and nobody else showed up. Debbie suggested we grab hot chocolate. I told her I had put an end to yard sales, but I came clean about returning to weekly transfer station hunting. Debbie had no idea that rich towns have special rooms at the dump where rich people leave expensive items they feel too guilty throwing out. I told her I left the transfer station last week with three bags of almost-new clothes. Debbie just listened. She doesn’t judge. She also doesn’t make us talk in Group if we don’t want to. One time another man even showed up, and sat through the whole hour without introducing himself. Another time I showed up to the wrong meeting. It was

Dystopian Forest// Sonia Vohra 76

some sort of Weight Watchers Group. The woman next to me shared that her cake cravings had come back in full force. She tried throwing cake in the trash. But she ends up digging through the trash later to eat it. So she then tried pouring coffee beans over the trash-cake to prevent the trash eating. But she admitted she’d still later dig it out. I worried I might somehow pick up their bad habits. When it was my turn to talk, I told them I’d pass. The group leader did not like this answer, which made me miss Debbie. Last month, I drove by Cathy’s big house on the way to the transfer station. I told myself I’d only pick up toys for my nieces and nephews. It was an almost empty parking lot, so I drove right up to the front of the station. I loved hunting in peace. That’s when I saw her. Exiting the transfer station, holding three overstuffed bags. I drove away. I glanced back once to confirm my sighting, and Debbie was staring back at me. I stopped going to Group, but I didn’t stop thinking about Debbie. I sometimes dare myself to drive by Cathy’s house. If I drive slowly, I can see the stacks.

Monkey See, Monkey Do//Sonia Vohra


Día de Cristóbal Colón Ankanksha Sinha Behind closed lids and soaked lashes the phosphenes wove into intricate crimson spirals. The waves pressed upon her eyes, and with each swell the spirals rose and set quickly, east to west—two pulsating autumnal suns. She shivered. As she lifted her head above the surface, the salt seemed to cling to each crevice in her skin, burying itself comfortably in her warmth. A deep, trembling breath rattled through her body. The salt upon the blues and purples on her abdomen, on her thighs, on her wrists, burned—but righteously, as though sucking out the sin, purging her body of blame. She knew that by the time she tiptoed back into her shack and the wind had carried the sea off her skin, she would once again feel the heavy, quiet oppression, commanding her lips from parting and forcing her to relive that night in silence. But for now, for just this moment, submerged in her sea, she could feel pure and clean. It had been the same for a week now. Having mechanically worked, eaten, spoken through the day, she would ultimately crawl onto the soft straw bed and will herself to sleep. The uneasy slumber would inevitably descend into her recurring nightmare. Rugged brown fingers would slither tightly around her throat and her wrist. Her head and spine would slam against the stone. Bruises would spring across like azure fireflies on a bronze night sky. His dark body would hold her prisoner, and his teeth would be bared in that triumphant, leering grin. The invasion never crept up on her—it pounced upon her flesh in his every touch. And when she cried out from the sudden pain, the tightening grip, the piercing agony in her abdomen, the rupturing of her spirit, the voice that came out would seem to echo tenfold. Distinctly, she would hear thousands screaming for mercy in harmony, yet all strumming through her singular vocal cords. As this absurd wailing sinfonietta hit its crescendo, she would abruptly find herself lying all alone on the white sands, staring up at the swaying leaves of the palm 78

trees. While this sight was far from unfamiliar, something about the palms would send her into palpitating anxiety. She’d lift her head slowly. Her eyes would trace a strange line running from tree to tree, encircling her. To her confusion, she would discover thick ropes winding around the palms, and as she swept her fingertips across the toughened barks, the trees would quake violently, straining against the ropes, yearning to break free. Panicked, she would run to the knots to pull them open, but her usually deft, nimble fingers would stumble on these foreign entanglements. Each effort to undo them would wind them tighter. The trees would groan and shudder and heave until a resounding crack whipped out at the night sky—a thousand palm roots tearing out of the ground with ominous finality. Before she could see them collapse upon the sand, her eyes would snap open and she would jerk out of bed, gasping for breath and drenched in layers upon layers of sweat. The humid air would bear down on her chest. As her lungs struggled she would sprint out, tripping over each bump in the ground until she had plunged into the freezing ocean. There, under the ripples and the silvery moon, she would finally breathe. Once she had calmed herself sufficiently and washed the memory of his touch from her mind, she’d wrap her goosebumped arms across her breasts and begin the short trail home. Efforts to unravel the meanings of the phantasm remained futile. Of course she understood the beginning— it was too soon for her to forget, too easy for her mind to replay, too terrifying to be consumed by anything else. But the bound palms, the alien knots, the disastrous upheaval all escaped her. She’d lie back in bed puzzling at its significance, and drift into fitful sleep until the sun rose blearily once again. Now, having felt her breathing return to a normal pace, she lifted herself slowly out of the ocean and back on to the beach, aching to lie in her bed and praying for a

Palm Tree//Zoya Mahmood 79

Cerulean Forest//Sonia Vohra

merciful, restful night. When morning came, she woke to the bustling din of the island’s daily life. The grinding sound of stone on stone rumbled from the spice grounds over the whole village, infusing the saltine air with fresh fragrances. She could hear the women yapping away energetically as they took down and collected the strips of fish that had been hung out to be cured. They were muscled arms and toned shoulders, sheens of bedazzling perspiration, and trailing braids that swung with every animated gesture. Tiny, pattering feet carried swarms of giggling children from one nook of the island to the next. The sun stretched its weakened autumn arms out to envelope them all in a bright, chilly embrace. She had woken late and the men had perhaps already left on their fishing boats, bare chestnut skin glowing golden on the shimmering sea, lean arms confidently propelling the nets over swathes of crystalline water. He with his roughened fingers and triumphant grin was probably amongst them, every aspect of his life continuing without change. She knew she ought to step outside and meld into the 80

community toiling beyond her walls. And she had, this whole week, pretending that her mind wasn’t submerged in an irrepressible flashback at every given second. But on this day, something was holding her back, binding her limbs to her bed and imploring her to stay within, to take in the home she lived in and remember every detail as though she may never see it again. A fluttering anxiety had encased her heart. She lay back down, blinking sluggishly, watching the sun change its colors upon her walls, and seeing the shadows lengthen until they cloaked her home in a foreboding night, heavy with a future. If she had left home that afternoon, she would’ve seen the fishermen returning with the day’s catch. She would’ve seen them rushing, distressed, off the boats, bringing news of terrifying crafts several hundred feet tall, monstrosities that dwarfed their innocent kayaks, speeding towards the island with impossible velocity. She would’ve seen the women forget to haul the fish and begin curing, choosing instead to hunch their shoulders in fear, millions of questions darting like small, blue chromis in and out of their mouths. She

would’ve seen him, with his oppressing brown hands and repressing sinewy figure, wide-eyed in worry and confusion. She would’ve seen them all come together as the light faded, realizing that they could do nothing but sit tight, wait, and pray. Instead, she drifted once more into her nightmare. Once more, a thousand screams burst from her lips, and searing anguish wrecked her bones. Once more, she trailed her hands upon the strong, fortified barks and strained against the strange knots. Once more, the roots cracked with finality and she woke on a bed drenched in sweat and apprehension. She bolted out to find her sea, and leapt into its dark waters. The night obscured the horizons. The ocean reached out with forlorn fingers, gently pulling her hair into its tide, braiding it meticulously as though she were its only child, its precious child, its beautiful, doomed, soon-to-die child. She climbed out and treaded quietly back home. Her toes sank softly into the sand. Suddenly, she heard the grinding, screeching sound of ships drawing up to the shore. Outlandish voices cried out,

Aflot in a Bubblegum Sea//Sonia Vohra

“¡Vámanos! ¡Vámanos, ahora, ahora, ahora! ¡En este momento, hombres! ¡Rápido, rápido!” Before she could even turn back in surprise, these new sounds had snaked into her throat to choke her, as though her tongue had been conquered, subdued, tightly jailed behind her teeth. Surging out of the vessels were excited men, alien-like with their pearly white skin and sharpened swords. “Somos los conquistadores, y sois los conquistados,” the apparent leader cried out with glee, and yet their words washed over her, hollow and binding. Purposeful and practiced they lunged in unison, a cardinal-amber devourer greedy for prey. She barely had time to breathe before they crossed the seashore. Smooth white fingers slithered tightly around her throat and her wrist. Her head and spine slammed down on the beach. Bruises unfurled and painted her into a red and yellow banner. His white body, wrapped in many skins, held her prisoner, and his teeth were bared in that triumphant, dominating grin. The invasion didn’t creep up on her—it pounced upon her, upon her sea, upon her island. A guttural, rooted scream escaped her lips as steel plunged fatally


into her abdomen. Within a moment, she was lying all alone on the white sands, staring up at the swaying leaves of the palm trees, blinking life out of her eyes. Fluttering in and out of consciousness, she could faintly make out the sounds emanating from her village. The swishing of the steel tyrannized the night. A thousand voices howled for mercy, but the words seemed to have lost their meaning. All they were now were harmonies with no history and soon, no future. The island seemed to be grasped in a tightening grip, the very air being sucked out of the sky, pulling the towering palms upwards with it. Her lungs struggled for oxygen, and she attempted in vain to move her stiff body towards her sea. The wailing rose higher and higher, a tsunami wave crashing over the entire island with devastating unanimity. As the whimpering orchestra hit its crescendo, sanguine streams rushed out of her body, barreling forcefully


towards the ocean in search for purity and cleansing. They were red tributaries running eagerly into the sea, infusing it eternally with a language to be forgotten, a people to be massacred, a spirit to be irreparably torn apart. As the night faded, a thousand such rivulets fed the sea from part of the island that touched the sea. The air echoed with celebrations in a foreign tongue. The island now belonged to hands that glowed pale and silver, and not to the bronze, copper, gold, that had jeweled it from the beginning of time. She closed her eyes a last time, and saw the flitting autumnal suns until death blanketed her in dark nothingness. The haunted night was silent. The haunted night was crimson. The haunted night would bring a never-before-seen sun. The haunted night was heavy with a future.

Mirror of Mind//Ingyeong Kang

Love, cloud//Ingyeong Kang


Reaching//Kirk Zieser

Spotted//Kirk Zieser 84

Decaying Diadem Nell DiPasquantonio How dull for you to live your life without a hill to die on. You on your vast sunken plains —the lowlands south of Saigon. With foresight fallen underfoot the enemy surrounds them, And holds aloft the sunken man or breaks his back with thralldom. For in every labored breath and whispered sigh there is a will, Bringing brigadiers to battlecries and hardened helots to the hill. And every drop of monsoon rain pummelling mercilessly the sea, Is beleaguered by insipid cries wrapping fingers ‘round the sheath


Five Acts Christopher Stein

I. I bloom in the arms of the day air sheets of me roll out from the mind slip off one another by some molecular peculiarity bring me into form by the word of God don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t Creation II. I am enfolded in primordial soup floating in the feeling of brown and ochre and tan together my hair takes shape in the dimness gather it into a bundle tied don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t Creation III. I’ve stood on the stage let men bid for me sold to the man with the gold tooth cover my screams with paper bring me with you a gift to give other people don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t Creation IV. I lived daily in the shadow of the walls bent like a beggar against a cedar board in the street they are pulling me up with a palette knife touch me up dear and don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t Creation V. I’m warm at last again in the embrace of the day air can finally let go of that held breath new again today or at least newly formed feed me to the furnace this too is Creation


Harsh Survival//Kirk Zieser


Autumn Reflections//John Picker


Aether Fiona Kennedy My heart was at my throat with every step As coast to coast I wandered in a fog And when the dust had settled on my ending, I turned again to nature’s epilogue. At first I joined the tidal timers’ dancing, Which wears upon the cliffside, deep and slow. I felt a kinship with the fire-keepers, Who breathe on deadened ash to make it glow. Then finally, I turned my efforts inland, I sought the secret deep beneath the pines, Their roots assuring me that I could bear it, The wind awash with lavender and thyme— And in the quiet, laid myself to sleep. When I awoke, my breath was sure and deep.