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The Morningside Monocle

front cover photograph

Binary Impressions

Edward Smith

Monocle Staff Editors-in-Chief Ike Brooks & Lisa Xia Copy Editor / Social Chair Meaghan Brennan Poetry Editors Daniel Klein & Cassie Snyder Prose Editors Whitney Lee & Randy Weber-Levine Art Editors Christina Campbell & Caroline Cima Layout Editor Cathy Zhu 1L Editors Connie Wang & Liz Levin

Copyright 2018 Š by The Morningside Monocle at Columbia Law School. For more information, please visit us at www.themorningsidemonocle.com.

The Morningside Monocle Winter 2018

editor’s note Dear Reader, In the beginning, there were the “muckrakers.� These were a group of journalistic-minded Columbia law school students who, through their independent publication, The Morningside Muckraker, sought to spark thoughtful and critical conversations about issues and events they believed important for the law school community to be informed about. The Morningside Monocle was originally the literary component of that publication. But in 2017, it was decided that The Monocle would carry on as a standalone publication. We knew that there were many creative spirits wandering the halls of JG, yet interestingly enough, Columbia Law School had no affiliated literary magazine. This was a hole we intended to fill. Our vision for The Monocle is to create a space that is not only wholly integrated within the law school community, but also recognized as a platform that puts art, expression, and creativity first. We want students to have an opportunity to contribute their ideas and experiences to something that is for the students, by the students. We hope that through this magazine, we are able to enrich student life at the law school, as well as bring a sense of community to the school through an increased understanding of who our classmates are. We think we can do this because how we choose to express ourselves through art or writing is inherently influenced by our own experiences and worldviews. By increasing visibility to the literary arts magazine, we hope that students can begin to gain insight into who their peers are, and to appreciate, not only the talent they possess, but also the similarities and differences between the individuals that make up this special community. We are so incredibly thrilled to present to you the inaugural issue of The Morningside Monocle. We hope you enjoy it. Sincerely, Lisa Xia

table of contents photography 2

Cheap Thrills Edward Smith 5 Voices Heard, Part I Edward Smith 5 Voices Heard, Part II Edward Smith 7 Lodhi Gardens Edward Smith 9 The Eiffel - Paris, France Julie-Irene Nkodo 13 Lounging Jennifer Dayrit 14 Binary Impressions Edward Smith 16 Panajachel Perspective Edward Smith 17 Morning Commute Edward Smith 18 Formosa, Argentina Hilary Rosenthal 21 Crawling Jennifer Dayrit 23 The One Less Traveled By Emma DiNapoli 25 Pantanal, Brazil Hilary Rosenthal 25 Zanjita, Paraguay 1 Hilary Rosenthal


Zanjita, Paraguay 2 Hilary Rosenthal 25 Chacho, Paraguay Hilary Rosenthal 26 Chaco, Bolivia Hilary Rosenthal 26 Lionshead, South Africa Hilary Rosenthal 33 New York Hilary Rosenthal 40 Untitled 1 Lloyd Lee 42 Untitled 2 Lloyd Lee 43 Untitled 3 Lloyd Lee 47 Unbridled Edward Smith 47 Mirroring Edward Smith 47 Observer Edward Smith 48 BANG! Edward Smith



28 My Dear Brooklyn Ibrahim Diallo 4 Zacate, 2002 Krystal Vazquez art 8 Corinthians 13 Paul Barker 38 10 Le Petit Mort Krystal Vazquez 12 Feeding Time 101 Caroline Voldstad 14 No Refuge Can Save Us Geanette Foster 19 Metamorphosis Daniel Klein 20 Bitch Rachel Lafortune 22 Northwest Despidida Krystal Vazquez 39 (gravity is a heavy burden) Cathy Zhu 41 The Precious Misuse Of A 1L’s Free Time Bret Matera 49 Vivianna (norte) Krystal Vazquez 50 Vivianna (sur) Krystal Vazquez 3

The Unlikely Bedfellow Haris Durrani

A Reckoning of Our Time Alive Cathy Zhu


Cheap Thrills

Edward Smith


my dear brooklyn ibrahim diallo I’ve written you many poems
 While I searched through basements, coffee shops and broken homes Many people have taken your name
 Indeed, it did lead them to fame But for me, it ain’t just about that red, black, white, green and brown It’s about what you tell me when no one is around
 In the middle of the truthful and naked nights
 Between prayer, whiskey, and midnight fights When the days drag on but the nights are young And even in the earlier hours of my morning run When the sun is asking to rise
 And the moon is still bright and wise Whether that’d be Cortelyou, Prospect Park or Coney Island Ave And way out in Bushwick, Flatbush or in a Church Avenue cab
 I only take what you give me
 I don’t pimp you out like the newcomers all tempt me What you give me is with your whole heart — with pride, pain and shame No reservations! Just you, me, us. It’s clear, you will never be tamed Yep, they think they are cool
 You and I know who is being fooled


zacate, 2002 krystal vazquez I push
 my red machine across the grass until it’s all finished
 and then I see
 a man. He speaks
 and asks if I
 can do his up the street,
 never thinking that the green lawn is mine. 4

photograph (left)

Voices Heard, Part I Edward Smith

photograph (below)

Voices Heard, Part II Edward Smith




Lodhi Gardens Edward Smith


corinthians 13 paul barker The New York Young Persons’ Choir sang the letter from Paul to the Corinthians that is often read at weddings, the one that says many untrue things about love, among them that it endures all things. Love fails to endure very basic things, such as distance, time, and itself. The term “heart break� is peculiar to me because I felt my heart split most falling in love while falling out of it, it was my brain seemed poised to work itself to death. We court a certain drama when we imagine the universals: wisdom means sitting on mountaintops, courage is one pawn up against the army. Well, love is a little like chess. Each move leads to the next, some necessary, some seeming necessary. There is something like this in music, too: you might say that in a good melody each note amends the promise of all the preceding. In contrast, a melody minus time is an ugly chord and chess without moves is a rock fight. We were patient and kind, to no particular effect. There are many things you can lose simply by waiting, but the greatest of these is love.



The Eiffel - Paris, France Julie-Irene Nkodo


le petit mort krystal vazquez The Calavera Catrina enters the cantina. Having set yet another date on her calendar, she is anxious for her bridegroom to join her in the room. A mariachi band marches in behind her. The band sets up near the stage while the regulars talk. I wonder who’s the lucky guy today. They say.
 Can’t be worse than yesterday’s. Poor soul.
 Having used the restroom of his final resting place, the man of the hour descends the stairs, somber in his sombrero.
 So, what brings you subterranean? They ask.
 The deadbeats pass around a flask. They all take a sip when the bartender is not looking. Prices are a little too steep even in the afterlife.
 The caballero sits at the bar, but he says nothing.
 There’s no use worming your way out of this one. We all spill eventually. They joke. And one croaks in the corner: take me for instance. I mean Caballeros shouldn’t kiss and tell, but Catrina had me back in 1916 when I died in the revolution. In battle, I was taken out before I even heard the rattle of the recoil. I drifted for a while before I landed stateside. And that’s when I met Catrina. Catrina only gives you one shot, but that can last you an eternity. Trust me. Catrina smiles and orders a round of shots.
 Ventilation enters through the ventanilla.
 He goes on: You can’t really call it a sin of the flesh around these parts, it’s more like knocking bones if you know what I mean, but she likes men who use their trigger finger. Just a little tip from me to you. Hombre to hombre. And, really, we don’t want to rattle your ribcage here, but what was it? If you must know, it was a submachine gun in Arizona. Catrina declares. She gently pats her bridegroom’s shoulder bone with her bony hand. 10

The bartender lines up the drinks and they clink. A shot for the caballero.
 And a salt-rimmed margarita for the señorita. And flaming shots for the rest. Submachine guns don’t shoot themselves. Who was behind it? It was a nine-year-old girl. The bridegroom answers. Mortified. They all laugh.
 Did you hand it to her yourself ? They all laugh. The mariachi band begins to play their tune. This time, the caballero is spared. Tired of the company, Catrina and her bridegroom dearly depart. With the marriage bonafide, Catrina strides out of the cantina and marches her bridegroom to the back room to bone sweetly in their skeletal bed.


feeding time 101 caroline voldstad In this aviary, each day repeats The one before. Holed up, The dullest parrots, willfully enclosed, Repeat after the man at the podium. Polly wants an A. And afterwards, they peck At each other With gracefully disguised contempt And (not so well hidden) comparison, Flight, long ago deemed frivolous.




Jennifer Dayrit


no refuge can save us geanette foster


Binary Impressions Edward Smith 14

so tonight, a harvest moon hangs and unarmed black bodies lie dead in the street.

let’s not talk about anything serious. let’s discuss the voices, the unsolicited chatter, the ghosts of our pasts, the clutter — greasy paper bags, a bong handmade from an old gatorade bottle and your dusty rollerblades

retreat into this home we built while the police ambush our people, fighting for our freedom, with tear gas and rubber bullets but

somewhere between our bodies we make time on the edge of your bed. drawn like magnets, our hands inch closer until, centimeters from mine, your fingers stop. 15


Panajachel Perspective Edward Smith



Morning Commute Edward Smith



Formosa, Argentina Hilary Rosenthal


metamorphosis daniel klein As I bounded among the chrysanthemums My love for flowers grew so passionate That I actually myself became one And was rendered happily inanimate. My glasses tumbled off my face As I became a beautiful, bright pink flower; My socks and shoes became displaced And then I lost my trousers! I settled happily into the earth And felt myself take root And with great excitement and mirth Drank water through my shoot! But soon enough, I grew disenchanted With my newfound floriation, With my stem, my petals, and anther My photosynthesis and foliation. So I shook myself with great force And placed atop my head a thorn; When my petals fell off I became a horse And proclaimed myself a unicorn.


bitch rachel lafortune Waking up to the sound of my roommate and her lover laughing. Boisterously. Feeling like a kitchen mouse when the slamming door shudders through the room, announcing unwelcome human company. Or maybe the dog. The bitter rage of a native species Slowly edged out of its territory. I wish I was a wolf. If I piss on my door will that mark my space? Or just attract bugs — and a psych evaluation. Have I become this person? Made angry by their laughter, their impenetrable togetherness Maybe it’s the hunger speaking. No time to enjoy a meal. Just quick stolen scraps like I know I’m eating from someone else’s table. I dream of sinking my teeth into a whole mango — feeling its flesh tear under my bite, the juice bursting forth across my face like arterial bleeding.




Jennifer Dayrit


northwest despidida krystal vazquez The cane keeps you up or I do. Stiff legs in winter, you must sit like the old man you aren’t. The waiter sees
 your school boy blonde hair and blue-eyed get-up-and-go.
 and orders
 that you order
 or else he can’t
 allow you the chair. 22

Overpriced hot toddies half-drunk in line
 for ramen speak instead of the needles and pins. Saturday
 after Saturday
 back to your stateless studio where pill bottles line the walls like books,
 your spontaneous leg
 spasms shoot up my fingertips and your body moves,
 swiftly, the way it never can on eye-dotted sidewalks, making my body
 the unruly one
 on your ex’s old sheets. I ride the yellow chair
 at dawn against
 the kitchen wall
 (I got you, you say, I got you). The curtains call on us from above the sink
 and I kiss
 your left cheek, avoiding the stabbing pain on the right side
 of your mouth that comes the first night
 after every monthly muscle injection but
 you say,
 leaves by morning.

photograph (left)

The One Less Traveled By Emma DiNapoli



mbyjakuera, a collection photographs counter-clockwise, from top:

Pantanal, Brazil

Hilary Rosenthal

Zanjita, Paraguay 1 Hilary Rosenthal

Zanjita, Paraguay 2 Hilary Rosenthal

Chacho, Paraguay Hilary Rosenthal


mbyjakuera, continued photographs (below)

Chaco, Bolivia

Hilary Rosenthal (right)

Lionshead, South Africa Hilary Rosenthal



the unlikely bedfellow haris durrani*

She tells you she’s a terrorist after she takes you to the rooftop diner on 114th, but she doesn’t say it that way. “I’m an Unlikely Bedfellow,” she announces, like she’s had an epiphany. That’s what they call themselves. The Unlikely Bedfellows. They think they’re doing something good for the world. She always savored the foreplay of a prepared moment. You experienced this once before, when she looked at you across her steaming chicken gyro seven years ago and said, “I think we both know why we’re here,” to which you paused, registering the suggestion, and explained quite purposefully that you were confused. She hasn’t changed. You saw it minutes ago in her stiff posture, the levity in her step, her attention to the sky. She’s neither particularly companionable tonight nor beautiful. She is precisely as you remember. The night sky is not. It hasn’t been for months. Even from the city, whose lights once shone bright enough to drown the stars, the catastrophe streaks white fire through the subdued urban gloom. It’s a nightly display of shooting stars, but you know this is not a spectacle to admire. You remember 2007, when China launched a kinetic kill vehicle into its own weather satellite to test anti-spacecraft operations. From then on, anytime the International Space Station shifted its orbit to avoid debris, it was usually avoiding junk from 2007 or remnants of old American and Russian anti-satellite tests and accidental collisions. Because debris could spread exponentially as each collision generated more detritus, which in turn generated more, scientists estimated that the rate of debris production had * Author’s Note: This work was inspired by Wafaa Bilal’s mixed media art piece, “Space Junk.” 28

reached a point of no return. Technologies to remove debris were necessary. As the years passed, efforts to limit military activity in space, regulate debris, and develop remediation technologies stalled. It was a “tragedy of the commons.” No change would occur, experts cautioned, until catastrophe struck, by which point it would be too late, as the chain reaction of debris began its chaotic work. Inspired by these warnings and frustrated with “global inequalities made possible by the high ground of outer space,” a clandestine group with deep pockets launched several small kinetic kill vehicles into orbiting satellites, triggering a catastrophic chain reaction of debris. They were the Unlikely Bedfellows. That was in June. It’s September now and still you cannot forget. On a clear evening, debris burning in the atmosphere resembles shooting stars; each night you are forced to remember. Everyone is. Hours ago, you watched together. First from the green depths of the town, then from the Metro-North as it coursed the suburban ocean of darkness, and eventually, from the library roof. Where once you looked below into the electric fire of Manhattan lights, you now looked above as the remains of humanity’s greatest technological feats caught fire in the sky. The two of you sat cross-legged before the punctured dark atop the library roof, inhaling the incongruity of Morningside Heights and Harlem and imagining vacuum. Atmospheric burn looked like a white and yellow splatter of paint, skeletal and sparse, the black its canvas. Here and there, you noticed indistinct pricks of red. You shivered beneath the cascade of debris—the Sistine Chapel of the Unlikely Bedfellows, people call it—and watched the final frontier smolder in mockery of an aurora, definitive in its mute rage. You wondered whether you should cry. The city roared, indifferent. The sound was softer than in memory. She led you to the diner, where she has confessed her sin to you while you read the menu. She’s the one who made this mess in the sky. She’s proud of it. You’re not surprised. It’s like her. But you’re scared also. What if other Bedfellows are here, watching, ready to take you if you pull your mobile from your pocket? As you order your food, you play with the edge of your phone. You’re thinking you’ll have to call 9-1-1, one way or another. You poise in your seat, both terrified and aroused by the prospect of a duel. One last chance to settle the odds. A piece of you resists. It wants no part in this. Give me a reason to make that call, it says. You’re not moved. It’s been seven years. Why should you care what happens to her once you make the call? She’s a memory. Nothing more. She leans over the table and picks a chip from your plate. “Can I have one?” she asks as it crunches between her molars. Oh God, is she hitting on you? You want to think she is. She teeters side to side; the booth’s red leather squeals. 29

“That’s good,” she says, chewing, and again she reaches across. You run your thumb along the surface of your phone. “I’ll have another.” She eyes your thumb. “Pass the sriracha, please,” she says, although it’s closer to her than your chips. *** She still insists on calling you Jihad. “People don’t call me that anymore,” you tell her, peeling strips of chicken from your wings. “My name is Joe. That’s what people call me now.” She raises a brow and says something about how you’ve unfixed the fixing she did to you. “You never used Joe with me,” she says quietly. Then she calls you a coward and a self-hating Muslim. You don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. “You never used Joe,” she repeats, louder. You watch the speck of stray lipstick twitch on her upper lip. Her long frame hunkers around the table. It looks uncomfortable. Her skin, naturally white, is turning pink. In the window’s reflection, you feel stocky next to her, and she makes your skin seem darker than it is. You notice your back is stiff. Tufts of hair stray into your eyes. You wipe them away and sit back. You sip your milkshake to cool the wings and, pretending not to care, you ask her if she believes in God. You remember her friends. How they lurked outside the campus buildings with their scarves and their hairy cheeks and their cigarettes. She laughs and gestures at her plate. “Have some,” she says, even though your orders are the same. The smile has left her eyes. *** When you compare her to al-Zawahiri, she swirls her straw and looks away. “I was mostly PR,” she says. “Front-end shit,” she says. “We had sponsors,” she says. If anything, you realise, once you call her in she’ll probably break and lead the authorities to the big fish. That’s a good thing, right? She slurps the muddy goop of her milkshake and surveys the diner. “Shitty place, eh?” You set your milkshake on the table, harder than intended. “Yeah,” you say. “Hole in the wall.” She nods and replies, “But the food is worth it.” She works a piece of meat from her gums and taps the window with her fork. “And the view.” *** Hers is a half-assed apocalypse. The Unlikely Bedfellows could have destroyed five Manhattans with their calibre of donors. Instead they chose to reduce Earth’s orbit to a cosmic washing machine. The debris from the first kinetic kill vehicles are still colliding with other space objects, satellites, discarded rocket bodies, and the paraphernalia of extra-planetary flight. They generate more debris in an endless cascade through void. The debris continues to spread months after the initial event, and although few large pieces have passed through the atmosphere into populated areas, telecommunications are slowed to ground and air relay and, 30

without GPS and the aid of space-based surveillance, many nations have found their natural energy resources compromised by Bedfellows-inspired groups. It’s surreal but lame. The Bedfellows slumped the global economy, rewound communications to the twentieth century, compromised national security, and indirectly killed a few thousand innocent souls in plane crashes and related accidents. It’s bad. It’s very bad. But it’s half-assed. If you dial 9-1-1, the cops will put her away, but she’ll be okay. She’ll be better off than others would be. She’s not the kind of bad guy they’re looking for. You wonder why you care if she’ll be okay. From the diner, you watch the debris burn in Earth’s atmosphere. For a moment you forget that this place reeks of frying oil. *** Yours was a half-assed love affair. Neither of you ever used the word love. It should be easy to rat on her. But she’s looking at you. Her soft, narrow jaw. The flitting blackness of her lashes. Her muscles moving beneath her blouse. You try to evade her intensity but can’t, so you watch the streaks of white and yellow dance along her cornea. She’s scared. So are you. It scares you that she hasn’t changed, that she remains as sporadic as she always was. That she has invested herself in an empathy for the world you can judge but never understand. It was as if the two of you had tacitly decided to wait for catastrophe to strike, an event which would one day throw you together. Then you’d watch as the refuse ricocheted like debris and eventually fizzed into the atmosphere of your memories. Neither of you believed you might die before the end of it, that the catastrophe would be this one, a partial End of Days. You don’t know what has her scared. You loved her before you truly knew her. You loved the idea of her. Her ability to thrive in intellectual banter, to engage with you when others could not. You liked that she considered herself a Mu’tazilite although you did not consider the same of yourself. You liked that her hair was curly and brown—you saw it once, beneath the folds of her hijab—and that you both listened to Calle 13 and Monchy y Alexandra. You liked that she knew more Spanish and Urdu than you did, that she thought she was more Pakistani than her Pakistani friends, and that she thought you found this attractive. You liked that she was more intimate with your cultures than you were, that she was willing to teach you how to be Dominican and how to be Pakistani. You liked that she called you Jihad. She was something you could not be. But you wanted her to love Iran. You wanted her to love who she was, not to dismiss her heritage as arbitrary, her history as political, her identity as constructed. But she was the Mu’tazilite, a thinker and a rationalist. There was no such thing to her as intuition. If you ever had declared your affec31

tions, would she have rationalised a way out? These were the thoughts you entertained seven years ago over her steaming chicken gyro in the spare seconds between her suggestion—“I think we both know why we’re here, Jihad”—and your intentionally ambivalent reply. You spent seven years reimagining that moment, sometimes with the satisfaction of a tough call made right. Often with regret. Now here she is, as she was before you first locked eyes. Before the beginning of time, it seems. Barring ten minutes at your mom’s funeral, no one’s heard from her in years. There are so many people she could have returned to, friends and family she could have paid an overdue visit. Yet she is here with you. You cannot separate your idea of her from the woman sitting across from you, snappy yet brooding, terrified yet certain. What happened, Hakima? you want to ask. Mixed with the wrong crowd? But you know the question is wrong. *** She keeps stealing from your plate. She wraps her fingers around your chocolate malt and sips. “Hey,” you protest. She squints at you like you’ve got beef with her, which you do, and snaps: “I wanted to taste the difference.” You pull your milkshake back to your side of the table. It slides along the condensed water that’s accumulated in droplets around the metal canister. “Yours is chocolate,” you reply, “and mine is chocolate malt. It’s the same thing.” She laughs, rousing the 2am customers—a guy in a tattered suit, an old couple, two women in blue and purple—from the muffled immediacy of this hour. “Then why didn’t you just get the regular chocolate?” she asks, like it’s the punchline of a joke. You press a hand on your thigh and the other against the sticky edge of the table. You lean toward her, formulating a bitter reply. Before you can speak, she snatches back the malt. “Wait!” she says and sips. “Yeah. Uh-huh.” She sips again. “Yeah.” She smacks her lips. “It’s… thicker. That’s the difference.” From this angle, the diner’s lights cloud her corneas in sheaths of sickly white like rotten cream. The city is louder and discordant, like muezzins calling prayer out of sync. “Listen, Hakima,” you say, “when it was you and me it was fine sharing stuff. But now your saliva is all over my food—” “Germaphobe,” she interrupts. “Jeez, my saliva hasn’t changed color, has it?” She makes a point of staring down the barrel of your straw. “Am I a fucking zombie?” You wait a beat and clear your throat. “We never finished, did we?” you say. You’re not sure if this is a pink slip 32

or an invitation. She continues staring down your straw, moving the red and white striped plastic through the muddy goop. She lets go and touches the surface of the canister with the tips of her fingers. Droplets cling to her. She looks up, smiles absently, and points to her half-eaten wings. “No, I’m not finished,” she replies. “That’s not what I meant,” you say. “What did you mean?” she asks. “Forget it.” You allow the night sky to distract you. It’s an excuse not to look at her. The night sky’s not finished either. It keeps tearing apart as if something’s on the other side, scratching at Earth’s cosmic door, and you can only glimpse fragments of light beyond. It’s half-assed but haunting. You find yourself compelled to concede its majesty.


New York

Hilary Rosenthal


The Bedfellows’ destruction is indirect. Its true horrors do not lurk in the atmospheric burn of debris that you can see but manifest in the consequences of a world where climate change will remain a predicament nearly impossible to resolve. Where a plane will go missing and no one will find it. Where a tsunami will ravage a people who could have been forewarned. They’ve rendered the human race a species without frontiers. Earth alone remains its domain. You know that you will not care for these years. You will care for your single year with her, before all this, even as you train yourself to forget. She’s not the mastermind behind the operation, but that doesn’t absolve her. She says she did PR. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Did she edit their propaganda videos, cut the transitions? They were shitty videos. Were they supposed to be? You remember them: Saddam’s gold bust tilted in CGI orbit, an art piece. A French song, Dégénération. Saddam’s bust opening its cavernous mouth. Smirking. “Think of us as Greenpeace in space,” it purred. “Unlikely Bedfellows are the privileged few who act for those who cannot act for themselves. The elderly white woman who testifies on behalf of her neighbor, the illegal immigrant. The suit who steps between a trigger-happy officer and the black man he passes every day on his way to work…” The bust’s lips were over-textured, garish. They disgusted you like too much lipstick. Was that her doing? You shake the image. It is better to end this now. It is better to be rid of her for the rest of your days. This will make her easier to forget. This will exorcise the specter of her memory. *** She pays the bill. She wants to make things right. You can’t allow that. She knows you’re somewhere between shitting yourself and calling the cops. She is eyeing the hand on your thigh. She’s reading you. She had a talent for it, and she still does. That’s what you’d wanted back then. You wanted someone who could see what you were about, who could interpret your every move and word, for whom communication was superfluous. “Not so chivalrous these days?” she chides. You never used to let her get the tab. You begin to reply, but realise you don’t have to. You both know how badly you want to let this pass, how badly you want to reconcile. This is precisely why you need to dial 9-1-1. You need to do it now. This is a rabbit hole. She’s only trying to stop you from making that call. There’s nothing more to it. You don’t understand why she decided to tell you in the first place. She’s a trespasser. She sneaks you past security, jumping fences and laughing as if the years between you are not lost. She is still comfortable breaking rules. And still you follow. The city cleanup crews are asleep for the night. The nose and tail of 34

Flight 6302 are still lodged in the brick to either side of College Walk, as if something big clawed a morsel from the plane’s midriff. Scaffoldings rise along the sides of Hamilton Hall, and the wing of 4915 protrudes from the roof. She takes you there. You push through the brush and climb the scaffolding to the seventh floor, where you slip through a hanging tarp and squeeze between the wing and the punctured brick wall. She shines a flashlight into the dark. The wing fills the lecture hall, resting on a bed of splintered chairs that shift as their shadows move with the flashlight’s angle. The wing tip has wrenched a thick gash across the chalkboard. The crews have dismantled the fuselage, which reclines against the ripped chalkboard like an impotent missile. The room smells of oil and sweat. The rug is charred into the semblance of black Velcro, and coarse burn marks swathe the chairs and walls. The crews have worked straight for the last week. They’re trying to figure out how to fix this mess without compromising the historic structure. The two of you amble over the rubble toward the door, hand in hand, feeling for each other’s pulse. Your tongue dries and clings to the roof of your mouth. For a moment you’ve forgotten she’s a monster. You believe vaguely that you may have mischaracterised her crime. She leads you down the stairs to the fifth floor, where you had a seminar in 513. “Remember Professor Lara?” she asks. “Yeah,” you say. She nods. “It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? How do you reform a system that can’t be fixed from the inside? A system that is so paradigmatically sick. You destroy it and allow the rubble to rearrange itself. That’s not pessimistic. That’s hope. Humanity is capable of more, if only provided the opportunity.” She looks out the window into the sky filled with shooting stars. “This is an opportunity.” She gauges the fear in your eyes. “Trust me,” she insists. “This is the least apocalyptic apocalypse the Unlikely Bedfellows could think of. People will die, but not like they would from nuclear shit or bioweapons. More importantly, militaries will crumple. Economies will flounder. People will say: ‘What have we come to?’ And they’ll strive to do better. A few decades without space is a survivable Armageddon, don’t you think?” You blink and step toward the table in the center of the room. You touch its surface and then sit in the place where she once sat, a stash of pens on her left, chai on her right, and a thick notepad in between. She always had an edition of the week’s reading, tired and dog-eared as if she’d re-read it several times over many years, as if it had passed through generations like an heirloom. Everything she did, she did with the effort of lifetimes. But you would have never guessed she’d invest her life in this. You forget why you cared about a thing called the system. You only 35

know that you did. It’s an idea you loved, as you loved the idea of her. Beyond this, it’s shallow and remorseless, ineffable and impractical yet alive with a fury superseding its logic. What use is a thing that cannot be described? She unearths the old turn of phrase. “I think we both know why we’re here,” she murmurs, but you thrust your hands into your pockets. “I’ll tell you what I said seven years ago,” you reply. “I’m confused. I don’t feel what you feel.” “Liar,” she hisses. “You’re a liar. That’s not what you said.” You look at her. Her suddenly ruffled hair, chapped lips, scuzzy sneakers. The dust on her bony hands, on her arms, everywhere, covering her like ectoplasm. You look at everything but her eyes. “Oh really? What did I say?” She purses her lips. “You said, ‘I think I do.’” She’s lying. She has to be. You retrieve the phone from your pocket. “I’m sorry, Hakima,” you say, but for a moment you are smiling. You believe that this will put her behind you. *** You stalk back to the ruined classroom, where she grabs your phone with both hands and pulls back, dropping her flashlight to the floor and scattering shadows. “Don’t,” she begs. “Please don’t.” You swing your arm and rip the phone from her grip. You want to pity her. You envy her guilt. You envy her empathy. You envy her zeal, however misplaced, however despicable. You’ve spent your seven years invested in self-preservation. You don’t know what it’s like to disregard your fear. Is that why you felt for her years ago, as if you could borrow her fearlessness? You want nothing to do with it now. You know it for what it is. You’re turning your back for the same reason you might have loved her. You feel the urge to tell her how you feel one last time. A feeling like blood rushing into dead limbs. For a moment, you’re exhausted. Your muscles cramp and your face aches as if you’ve forced a smile too long. You scratch your nape and lean into your heels. You’re not like her. You don’t prepare your moments. “You know what I wanted to tell you when my mom died?” you say. “I wanted to give you a call. I wanted to say, ‘Hakima, I miss talking.’ I wanted to have that.” You shake your head, realigning your windbreaker and indicating the space between the two of you. “I thought I could do this, I really did, but I can’t. Everywhere I look, it’s you. You’re in my mom’s last hours. You’re in my memories of Professor Lara. You’re in the fucking sky.” You avoid her glare for fear it will tangle yours in its net of memories. “And now you’re here,” you go on. “You came 36

to Mom’s funeral like it was no big deal. As if Bin Laden could emerge from his cave one day, lay flowers on Reagan’s tombstone, and thank him for the fucking Mujahideen. I was still stupid enough to care about you. I had to fight to forget. It haunted me for a while. ‘Did I love you? Did I really?’ I kept asking. But I guess, if you haunted me, then yes I loved you. Loved. We never got very far, did we?” You allow a small smile. “Because it hit me. You don’t haunt me anymore. You scare me. You terrify me.” She has eyes only for you, and you for her. You are locked in your layers of betrayal, wanting to love but loathing the thing that each of you has become to the other. Her eyes are wet. You look away and dial. You wait for the ground relay. A moment passes. Behind you, she is unusually quiet. To your right, the library’s crown looms, bragging the intellectual conquest of an invented history. HOMER HERODOTUS SOPHOCLES PLATO ARISTOTLE DEMOSTHENES CICERO VERGIL You know what she’d say. She’d say she wished 4915 struck the crown. You try not to think about what she’d say. It doesn’t matter what she’d say. She’s the coward. She’s the liar. You turn to face her, but she is ten feet away leaning from the edge of the scaffolding. She is a faint, dark figure against the backdrop of falling stars. An artist before her work. Above the height of the library, an area of the debris has taken the skeletal shape of a willow tree, revealing patterns like cumulus. You open your mouth, but no sound will come. A siren, distant, dips into and out of existence. You smell sawdust and engine oil. Her toes scuffle plastic and wind fills her jacket as she plummets beneath the damaged sky. You wonder again whether you should cry. The operator retches static. “9-1-1, what is your emergency?” END


acrylic on canvas

A Reckoning of Our Time Alive Cathy Zhu


(gravity is a heavy burden) cathy zhu this is not some placid April morning and I won’t be tied down with invisible strings I’m craving the whole sun on my lips wild fledgling dreams strapped to wax wings hitching your ride bound for Olympus don’t sing me the stories, I know hubris — you can throw me to the sea my constellation epic all vibrant gold you are twisted thread in the labyrinth my brilliant beautiful absurd mystery



Untitled 1 40

Lloyd Lee

the precious misuse of a 1L’s free time bret matera Time Contracts and Tort (Fire and Ice by Robert Frost) Some say 1L will end in Tort, Some say in Contracts.
 From what I’ve tasted of the court I hold with those who favor Tort. But if I had to perish by the Facts, I think I’d no hesitation
 To say on-call
 That “past consideration,
 Is no consideration at all.” Six word story (Baby shoes by Ernest Hemingway) For sale: Legal Methods, never read. Swift v.Tyson (Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley) I met a student from a T10 land,
 Who said — “A vast and unanimous opine
 Stands in the casebook. . . . Near it, on the page,
 Half highlighted an overturned Story lies, whose reason, And wrinkled facts, and sneer of certain cert,
 Tell that its author well those arguments read
 Which yet persuade, print’d in the latest edition,
 The forum that mocked them, and the diversity that fed; And on the heading, these words appear:
 My name is Swift v. Tyson, Case of Cases;
 Look on my holding, ye States, and despair!
 Nothing below remains. Round the dicta
 Of that colossal ruling, boundless and bare
 The loose and lengthy pages turn far away.” 41

Roommates (This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams) I have drank the Buds that were in the icebox and which
 you were probably saving
 to pregame Forgive me
 they were not good so cheap
 and so cold


Untitled 2 Lloyd Lee



Untitled 3 Lloyd Lee


The Charge of the 1L Brigade (Alfred by Lord Tennyson) I
 Half a case, half a case, Half a case onward,
 All in the lobby of JG Wrote the four hundred.
 “Forward, the 1L Brigade!
 Charge for the ABA statistics!” Gillian said. Into the lobby of JG Wrote the four hundred. II
 “Forward, the 1L Brigade!” Was there a student dismayed? Not though the professor knew Someone had blundered. Theirs not to cold-call reply, Theirs not to synthesize why, Theirs but to read and cry. Into the lobby of JG Wrote the four hundred. III
 Glannon to right of them, Glannon to left of them, Glannon in front of them Asked and answered; Liquored with shots from Mel’s, Boldly they wrote and well, Into the jaws of JG,
 Into the mouth of hell Wrote the four hundred.


 Flashed all their highlighters bare, Flashed as they studied in air Sabring the Gunners there, Charging an army, while All the schools wondered. Plunged in the LLM-smoke
 Right through the line they broke; Yale and Harvard
 Reeled from the caffeine stroke Sleepless and starving.
 Then they wrote back, but not Not the four hundred. V
 Glannon to right of them, Glannon to left of them, Glannon behind them Asked and answered; Liquored with shots from Mel’s, While laptop and law student fell. They that had studied so well Came through the jaws of JG, Back from the mouth of hell,
 All that was left of them, Left of four hundred. VI
 When can their rankings fade? O the wild charge they made! All the schools wondered. Honour the charge they made! Honour the 1L Brigade, Noble four hundred!



portraits, a collection photographs (left)


Edward Smith



Edward Smith



Edward Smith


portraits, continued photograph


Edward Smith


vivianna (norte) krystal vazquez Great seal of the eureka state tells me
 We share(d) the same birthday:
 Both born at 9am in a Sun Valley hospital
 The same parents whose “state of birth” reads “Mexico” Even the form anticipates A space and place above the borderlands.
 She’s taken to a crib in Panorama City
 And raised off Van Nuys Boulevard,
 Where her Spanish sticks, the way mine didn’t Stays there longer than I did until she’s old enough For gelled baby hair and braided loops For pencil-thin eyebrows and dark outlined lips,
 Bad-ass hoop earrings and takes-no-shit wife-beaters
 She wears when she picks fights in the quad
 Or when she cuts class to drink Smirnoffs in empty lots
 That lead her to Edgar who makes her hips do basic cumbia Resting on the rusty orange carpet in the blue one-story
 On Natick Avenue when the cook and the hair stylist are not home. At 16, she works at a burger place on Sepulveda
 When she isn’t sweeping hair off the floor for her mother,
 Or hiding the baby bump behind books in the halls.
 I mourn her because she died in the empty space
 Between the web-blue borders
 Of our birth certificate
 The day I began to live. Vivianna would have named her daughter “Carmen” — after her middle name, The name of our grandmother, the one who told her family
 She had a migraine, rode off on a horse, and never came back.


vivianna (sur) krystal vazquez ¡Antaños! ¡Besos! ¡Bigotes! ¡Birotes! ¡Bolillos! ¡Canastas! ¡Chilindrinas! ¡Conchas! ¡Cuernos de mantequilla! ¡Donas! ¡Gusanos! ¡Ladrillos! ¡Manitas! ¡Mundos! ¡Neblinas! ¡Novias! ¡Orejas! ¡Pan de pulque! ¡Trenzas!

Antaños. She longed for yesteryear. She longed for the days after the revolution when she ate bread the way she ate bullets. Besos. She hadn’t been kissed in years, not really, not since the caballero who had blazed through town and grazed her cheek with his politics. Bigotes. She could still feel the moustaches of men that had tickled her chest and inner thighs and how the cerveza managed to reach the remotest places. Birotes. She was tired of all the walking. The years of it had crusted her feet and at night she would chip away in search of the soft flesh beneath. Bolillos. She hadn’t felt them when she was a young girl; the combs of her youth had no obstacles but now balls of pus had begun to form and erupt every dawn. Canastas. She would watch toothless men load baskets with red roses to take to the corrida so that young men could wave them in front of the girls and initiate the chase. Chilindrinas. She had wandered to the capital centavo-less and a woman had fed her and taken her in and told her she had some value. Conchas. She had never seen the ocean in her life. She had heard the road to the seaside was paved now but she felt she was too old for those kinds of trips. Cuernos de mantequilla. She plopped two large sticks of butter into the frying pan and pressed her ring finger onto the center, letting her flesh sizzle but not burn. Donas. She would watch doñas come in and stack bread so high that it would topple on the trays. She would count the broken bread as a whole piece and charge them full price. Gusanos. She never had enough to buy the good meat and so she grew accustomed to the pangs in her stomach and then whatever fell into the concrete hole. Ladrillos. She liked to pass by homes that were now in ruins so that she could stack the bricks in her mind and imagine what could have been. 50

Manitas. She had been pregnant only once and could still feel hands pressing on her from the front while her parents pushed her from the back and out the door. Mundos. She had a cousin who was working in the United States but was convinced she’d never see any part of the world other than her pueblo. Neblinas. She preferred wandering through the campo in the fog when the air was secretive and especially at night when the cemetery on the hill howled. Novias. She liked to walk by the templo on Saturdays for a chance to see the brides exit the church with their smiling husbands on the bell’s last toll. Orejas. She had once seen a man be trampled by a horse. First, the horse had kicked him in the face and then in a panic, had planted a hoof between his ears. Pan de pulque. She liked to take sips of liquor whenever she traveled to any of the religious festivals in Jalisco but never more than enough. Trenzas. She split her hair into thirds every morning. One third used to make a large bun on the top of her head and the other two made tight braids that never came undone.



about the monocle The Morningside Monocle seeks to enrich student life at Columbia Law School by sharing poetry, prose, art, and photography. The Monocle is published twice a year. The content and opinions represented in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the Law School, administrators, or student body. For more information about the literary magazine, please visit us online at themorningsidemonocle.com. Additional questions, concerns, and submissions can be directed to themorningsidemonocle@gmail.com.


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The Morningside Monocle - Winter Issue  

Volume 01, Issue 01

The Morningside Monocle - Winter Issue  

Volume 01, Issue 01