The Morningside Monocle
From Up Above Lisa Xia
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 & Randall Weber-Levine Art Editors Christina Campbell & Caroline Cima Layout Editor Cathy Zhu 1L Editors Connie Wang & Liz Levin
Copyright 2018 ÂŠ by The Morningside Monocle at Columbia Law School. For more information, please visit us at www.themorningsidemonocle.com.
The Morningside Monocle Spring 2018
Editorâ€™s Note It can be scary to do something you've never done before. Whether that's publishing your work in a magazine for all your peers to see or if its running an organization for the first time, sometimes, the only thing you can do is close your eyes and jump. When we sent out our first email to the law school listserv, we wondered whether everyone would unsubscribe immediately. When we hosted our first event, we worried about interest and attendance. When we sent out our first "submissions call" email, we sat in bated breath, waiting for submissions, and wondered if we would even have enough works to publish. (Spoiler alert: We did!!) If our first year as a student organization has taught us anything, it's that when facing a great unknown, it can be easy to think of all the things that can go wrong...but great things often lay just within reach for those who take the leap. We are so proud of The Monocle staff for their dedication in bringing this magazine to the law school community. We are so thankful of the contributors who have helped bring life to these pages with their words and art. Lastly, we are so grateful for all who have shown their continued support to the organization. The Columbia Law School community has helped shape our magazine into something far greater than we could ever have imagined, and we have faith that the Columbia community will continue to tell their stories through these pages for a long time. At least, we hope they will. It's not easy to put yourself out there. But if you do, you'll be glad you did. After all, we certainly are. Ike Brooks & Lisa Xia
Table of Contents photography
Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Hilary Rosenthal 2 Lake Atitlรกn Edward Smith 4 From Up Above Lisa Xia 9 Infinite Corridor Neeraj R.S. 11 Faces Lisa Xia 12 Girl on the Rio Hilary Rosenthal 14 Outward Introspection Hilary Rosenthal 15 But Not Lost Hilary Rosenthal 17 Rio at Sunset Hilary Rosenthal 17 Details Hilary Rosenthal 20 Columbia and the Quietude Neeraj R.S. 29 Peace Must Prevail Neeraj R.S. 30 Trieste, Italy 1 Sumedha Sarkar 33 Trieste, Italy 2 Sumedha Sarkar 41 The Lights Will Guide You Neeraj R.S. 44 Delhi Bookstore Edward Smith
Memories of Paris Jin Sol Lee Chasing the Sunset Jin Sol Lee Little Baby Louis Janice Lee
The Poetry of Home Gabriella Okafor 5 Hello Goodbye Rachel LaFortune 8 Grief Emily Rebecca 10 Arrival Paul Barker 19 I've Forgotten How to Write Argirios Nickas 20 Haikus Written During Exams Que Bill 37 Colors of God Dian Watson 38 Life of a Fury Daniel Klein 45 carne, 1970 Krystal Vasquez
12 22 31 40 42 46
Dancing With Her Fuad Chacon Tequila Mockingbird Krystal Vasquez Error in Progress Sarah Schnorrenberg Ghost Train John Finnegan The Myth of Sisyphus Randall Weber-Levine Childhood Lost Kit Venna A Fish Out of Tequila Sarah Schnorrenberg
The Poetry of Home Gabriella Okafor Home for me is–– A third space between rejection and survival An eroding self, enshrouded by loss and isolation A dying heart yearning for the elusiveness of belonging An unrooted soul balancing alienation and liberation The feeling of home lies in–– The dance of shadows across stained walls The stories he tells from his quaint store across the street The taste of dust and ash that clouds my breaking lips Trying to remember the miles between blood and hope The secret of home lies in–– The ancient maps plotted from Polaris: The North Star The words our ancestors carved out in forgotten civilizations The sacred way women carry humanity in their blood The story of the Phoenix rising from its own ashes searching for home We spend our lives a place to bury our hearts A place to belong learning to remember that Trying to forget and The struggle of our search is a privilege that is only possible Because someone sacrificed everything so that we may choose
Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Hilary Rosenthal
Edward Smith 2
From Up Above Lisa Xia
Hello Goodbye Rachel LaFortune Those nights in the park Holding you to my chest, my head upon yours When the thrum of your heart would pulse into my ear And the lights of the city, science fiction in the fog Would dim into the distance Those nights I felt like I had grown beyond my skin A snow flake, all cold sharp edges, that melts The moment it meets the warm surging surface of the sea And is absorbed But now my skin is a foreign sheath A too tight leash that doesn't fit and I think this is panic, this is that sharp cutting force Of watching a glass fall in slow motion Waiting for the crash, the shattered mess The projectile shards that reach distant corners of the room And cut my feet months later
Dancing With Her Fuad Chacon It always happens the same with any song, Doctor. I do not hope you to understand what I am going to tell you, because neither do I. It does not matter which surprising genre the DJ plays to impregnate the air of the party or to raise the dust from the dance floor with the powerful beat of its speakers. It does not even depend on the swaying measure of its rhythmic nor the millimetric metric of its three quarters. She is always there. Every chord played from the console drains her memories into my ears and once in my head they hide just like she could do it, behind the sol and flat of the musical score. At the beginning I was scared, but then I resigned myself to avoid it in the same way you will resign yourself to heal it. For this reason, I implore you to change the unwieldy strategy you use to treat your patients. Letâ€™s lay down our flags of sanity and I invite you to share my madness. Letâ€™s spend the following consultation hours immersed in my castaway stories while you pretend to be interested in every new adventure in which I dance with women that are not her, but in my mind, they are. I will pay you to tell you that I am crazy, and you will collect my money to give me the reason. But make me the Hippocratic anti-oath that you will never try to counteract my laconic hallucinations with any medicine, please. Understand that this is the only way I can be with her and to fill with the ashes of the memories the abysmal vacuum that the silence of her absence opened in my chest with blows of pain. This is what happens to me, although it is an illness hard to explain and not easy to understand. Since the last time in which I saw her escaping from my life to never again behind the door of her insurmountable house in the hill. I still keep recorded with fire in my retina the vivid picture of that last glance that we crossed. Ironically the same glance that once made me fall in love, that day was saying goodbye. She is a ballerina with the name of a saint, pure music, a symphony in motion. She had the delicate fragility of a draw without lines and the unpredictable surprise of the last doll that is discovered hidden in a matrioska. She arrived to my life with the complicity of chance, like the good omens do. Since then, my binary world was fascinated with the way her torrent of colors made blew up all the absurd rules under which I used to live. I flaked before the mystery of her existence, she sabotaged and disabled all my logic when she was closeâ€Ś She knew how to trap me. She loved to sleep accompanied by the synchronic sound of the rain falling on the roof, a habit of Athenian nymphs, and I found the peace that my chaotic days needed just looking her sleep. I spent several nights of constant vigil beside her bed taking care that nothing was going to perturb her dreams. They were long sessions battling against the ghosts hidden in the dawn, but her miracle smile during the next morning was a sufficient reward for my taciturn under-eye bags. 6
The first song that we danced was one that never existed. It sounded without volume in clear night while we were walking in the street of anywhere. How we coincided in that remote inhospitable space? It is not clear to me, call it destiny if you want. A gigantic moon was guiding our steps through the abandoned road while it was covering the footprints that were left behind. That moon follows us since always and was the sole eyewitness of our first kiss in the lake sometime later. In that moment, with an act of suicide courage that only the desperate lovers understand, I took her hand and offered to dance. A simple idea that was more like an untimely nonsense of madness, because everybody knows that writers have two left feet. “But we do not have music” was the only thing she said when surprisingly, against all odds and without difficulty she accepted to follow my street delirium that tremulous night in March, “Do not worry, we do not need music”. Then she slipped into my arms with the same grace than the water that runs out of the fingers, while I was trying to retain such demonstration of splendor. My knees were not able to respond. But the clumsiness of my shoes did not matter in that moment, because I was happy seeing her spin. A different happiness, a real one. There, together, in the middle of the night dancing like perfect idiots a song that only we knew. During those seconds of noisy silence, I understood that I needed her, her laugh that disarms me, her kisses that taste like red wine and her freckles that one day I took the precaution of mapping just in case I was lost in them. That is my curse, Doctor. It does not matter what time it is, the place where I am or who is in front of me. When I dance my eyes are closed like a bizarre instinct that I cannot avoid. And then, I see her again, smiling from the deepest darkness of my nostalgia, while she hypnotizes me with the dimples of her cheeks that she knows I love. Once and again, my eyelids fall, I forget the sordid roar of the party, I ignore the provocative contortions of my dance floor companion and I come back to that night, to that street, with that moon, just to dance with her our song. A song without lyrics nor notes, a song just for us. Then, the chords that transport me to her encounter finish and I come back to the reality. I open the eyes slowly while I say goodbye to her until the next song, where we will see each other again in the place that only she can find. My friends laugh at me because they say that sometimes I seem to be dancing alone. I laugh at them because they do not understand that I am never alone, she is always my partner. She is the only one with whom I want to dance.
Grief Emily Rebecca Technicolor city noises Ricochet untethered off skyscraper walls The sound of motors, sirens, and shouting men Tussling with an incessant wind I am happy in the crowded clamour like a Cathedral bell suspended on colliding overtones
Until a deafening silence swallows the whole:
I Remember to breathe
Infinite Corridor Neeraj R.S.
Arrival Paul Barker You who are merely now a thought the womb is bringing into being, a sheltered glow folded out of the cold nightâ€™s seeing, who cannot guess the whole precarious venture underway in your fierce cells, who cannot take the measure of the day youâ€™ll come to light, nor fathom the size of your first smile or your first bite, now let your elders worry you a while. We cannot guess how long your light will run, or with what pain; your hour tells nothing, and admits no measuring, nor can we know the length of the hands that guide you as you move and as you grow; we cannot even sort our fear from love, for your approach is like a piece of star approaching earth, and we will touch the heavens at the moment of your birth.
A Previous Life, a photography collection pages 12-17
Girl on the Rio
Tequila Mockingbird Krystal Vasquez I graduated from college with no job prospects, no health insurance and absolutely no dental benefits. The trouble was, of course, I needed a cavity filled. Puedes ir a Tijuana mañana con tu papa si quieres, my mother said. Only a four-hour car trip away from our home in the Southern California suburbs, Tijuana was my mother’s solution for everything, especially dental-related matters. The pain had neurotically spread from my back molar to the squadrons of my brain responsible for firing worry and concern into my consciousness. Only an hour before, while sitting in my childhood bedroom with the army of stuffed bears in the corner, I had found that the resumé I had recently submitted to a potential employer in my outbox had just been replaced by a kind “thank you but no thank you” e-mail in my inbox. “What time is he leaving?” “Early. Muy early.”
He left a small pueblo in Mexico when he was 16. The road to America was a hot two-lane road through patches of desert, patches of jungle, patches of city, and patches of poverty back then; today it is a multi-lane road, but the patches remain the same. He traveled through several Mexican states: Jalisco, Nayarit, Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua, and Sonora. He had shared a one-room shack with his parents and 8 siblings. He was the oldest. As the oldest, he stopped going to school when he 8 years old to help my grandfather herd and care for the animals on the ranch. After he crossed the border, he spent a few months living in North Hollywood before moving to Nebraska in the mid 1960’s. He worked in the meat packing industry because even though he couldn’t read or write, he was extraordinarily skilled at carrying meat across Midwestern plains during the day and laying it down night after night. We stopped at a diner before the border around 8am. My father pointed at a picture on the menu, and I ordered us both pancakes with strawberry topping, bad for the cavity, but good for my overall happiness. We ate our pancakes in silence. When I was a little girl, I rambled endlessly to my daddy about how when I grew up, I would have a big office and make a lot of money and buy him an expensive car. I took another bite of the pancake and like the sausage to the left of it, pushed those memories to the side. When we finished eating, I offered to leave a tip on the table, but my Dad said he would take care of it. After border patrol greenlit our entrance into Mexico, we arrived at the dentist’s office before the dentist himself. This dentist is always late, but my mom thinks he’s a good guy. The dentist’s salmon pink office was locked and after waiting an hour past opening time, he came. My father introduced me to the dentist who was excited that I could speak English. I love pop music, he said. Lady Gaga is my favorite. Sitting in the dentist’s chair by the window with Lady Katy Britney issuing from the BoomBox on the dusty shelf above, I took a deep breath as the dentist forcibly pushed a needle into gum terrain. My eye caught a glimpse of a plastic container of dentist’s tools to his left. Some of the tools looked rusty; some of the tools looked clean. The dentist took a call mid-drilling. It sounded like gossip. He tossed the cordless phone on my lap when he was done and continued. He returned to California in the 70’s and chose my mother, the virgin, over his Midwest and SoCal women in true Catholic fashion. He married my mother May 1974 on a sunny, Southern California day. Obsessed with pictures in their wedding album, I’ve learned little details that animate those photos, like how my mother’s wedding dress had thousands of tiny buttons going down from the nape of her neck to the small of her back and how my father’s drunk uncles teased that he would never be able to get the dress off, doubting his manhood in typical Mexican machismo fashion.
In 1975, a woman came to the door of the West Los Angeles apartment she shared with my father. The woman told my mother she had also been pregnant with my father’s child only a few months before. The woman told my mother to tell my father that if he didn’t come to the diner around the corner the following day at (high) noon, he would never see her child in his lifetime. After my father paid the dentist the five hundred pesos, quick and dirty without any insurance forms, we walked a few blocks to buy some medication from a pharmacy. My father greeted the man at the pharmacy like he was an old friend, like he had been living down the street from him for decades. We walked a bit more to find a place to eat. Donkeys painted as zebras dotted the way. When I was little, on the way back from the beaches in Baja California I would beg my parents to allow me to take a picture with the zebra-donkeys in full sombrero, but today the pile of shit collecting behind them was not appealing. A man and a woman stood outside a turquoise-colored two-story restaurant and somehow sold father and daughter on the cheap drinks and food that were waiting for them upstairs. I ordered a margarita that came with a “complimentary” Jell-O shot. My
Outward Introspection Hilary Rosenthal
father approved of the margarita, but disapproved of the man and woman who came out with the Jell-O shot they then injected into my mouth and topped with whipped cream. They shook my head around erotically for good measure after I swallowed. A busboy rang a large cowbell throughout the whole ordeal. Like the carne asade and guacamole I later ordered, I could only feel that Jell-O shot and whip cream on one side of my mouth due to the Novocain, but the humiliation that came with the forced erotic slurping of a Jell-O shot in front of my father, that I felt ripple across my entire body from head to toe. The winks the busboys and waiters were giving my father post-Jell-O shot made me immediately regret my decision to wear short summer shorts and see-through lace top from Free People that hot day in June. Still, I gave them my Americanized gracias on the way out. Raised among Midwest farmerâ€™s daughters, Richard, my half-brother, is more of a pocho than I am. He can barely speak Spanish and my father can barely speak much English. Still, Richard calls my father, his father, every year on his birthday. November 23. And so does Anna Maria, my half-sister. Richard and Anna Maria, also half-siblings to each other, are kind, but I know they must resent Albert, Vanessa and I for being the bonafide children, the children my father chose to raise. I can always hear it in their voices. Or see it on their faces in a flash of envidia when weâ€™ve shared meals together.
But Not Lost
Hilary Rosenthal 15
After lunch, my father took me to a nearby plaza. Seated on a bench, he told me he would come to this plaza every day for 3 months in the 1960’s. He lived in a oneroom apartment around the corner with twenty other young men who were all anxiously waiting their turn to cross the border into America. He would eat two tacos a day from a woman who sold them in the corner of the plaza. He was young and that was all he could afford. The stand was still there, but the woman was gone. I thought I knew my father’s immigration story, but he had never mentioned a layover in Tijuana before that day. There were probably countless other parts of the story he had left out over the years. On the walk back to my car to start the long trip back across the border, I saw a young girl in her early 20’s with my same almond eyes, only sadder. The girl was wearing a Mickey and Minnie Mouse t-shirt and a short leather miniskirt. The t-shirt was an obvious example of copyright infringement; while still cartoonish, the mice looked more like large rats. The girl’s skin was a bit darker than mine and she was entering a hotel with a man whose hair was gray. As I unlocked my car from a few feet away, I saw the young girl take his hand and disappear up the stairs with him, her red plastic high heels clacking hollow against the tile. 16
Rio at Sunset
Memories of Paris Jin Sol Lee
I've Forgotten How to Write Argirios Nickas I’ve forgotten how to write. Not metaphorically But synecdochally Creativity is part levity Which I’ve come to lack
And then setback Scattered reflections Like funhouse mirrors Thoughts mixed like colors on the palette of an exhausted painter
I used to start sentences with ‘And’ And poetry was livity Not lividity Livid am I That I’ve fallen so far
Forget the conclusion. It’s a distraction. And always far from right. Map the mind’s Darkness And it’s light
Forgive I’m really good at writing in complete sentences. Don’t forget And with structure! But accept Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion. And understand Growth and regret Three years and four easy steps— Go hand in hand Repeat the refrain Numb the brain So stow the Attic in the attic! Forget Let your prose roam free The process is the reward On the road To a better you ‘Ahem, excuse me, class: And a better me IRAC ‘falling in love’ Or ‘breaking up’ Or ‘trying to win her back’ Oh, and make that 1000 words or less Good luck’ Maudlin moments Perturbed protestations Breakthrough 19
Haikus Written During Exams Que Bill Three haikus, first year Written during my exams Shrugs, we all get jobs.
Columbia and the Quietude Neeraj R.S. 20
1L Grading Curve She sent the class a virus. Thank God I use Mac.
Tales of a Gunner No life, no friends, no real love My A's keep me warm.
Adversarial Huang said it takes two to tort Not so, ask Bagley.
Error in Progress Sarah Schnorrenberg 8:55 a.m. “Nervous?” the guy sitting in the folding chair across from you asks. You smooth down the corner of the resume you had been fiddling with. You shake your head. “Haha,” the guy says without a trace of humor. “Totally. I’m the same way. Not nervous. Had four cups of the free coffee career services has downstairs.” You nod. 8:59 a.m. You and the twenty other students in the hall rise. Eyes on watches, hands extended ready to knock. 9:00 a.m. KNOCK. Doors down the hall open. 9:01 a.m. The door in front of you creaks open. A suited arm reaches out. “Hello, you must be ____. Come in.” You take the hand. A practiced shake; not too firm, not too loose. A shake you spent three hours practicing. You step in, and perch at the end of the couch in the suite. “First interview of the day. Long day for you?” they ask. You nod and inform them of your fifteen interviews that day. 22
“Wow. Crazy schedule.” You nod. “So, tell me about your summer.” You do. 9:25 a.m. You sit down on the folding chair outside your next interview. “Nervous?” the girl across from you asks. She flicks a fidget spinner around another time. You shrug. “You should really stop by one of the hospitality suites. Free fidget spinners.” 9:29 a.m. The hall rises. Hands extend to the door. 9:30 a.m. KNOCK. The door opens. “Hello! ____, right?” You nod and extend a hand. “Nice to meet you.” “Do you have a lot of interviews today?” “Fifteen.” “Wow, good luck on that. So, what did you do this summer?” 9:59 a.m. You rise from your folding chair and raise a fist to the door. 23
10:00 a.m. KNOCK. 10:05 a.m. “Fifteen interviews today? I’m impressed. So, ____, what interests you in our firm?” “I’m really drawn to the size of the firm. I think I’ll excel in a smaller firm, with a closer-knit team that really excels at what it does and lets me take more responsibility sooner.” 10:30 a.m. KNOCK. 10:35 a.m. “Sounds like a fun summer! So, what interests you in our firm?” “I like the size of the firm. I’ve always wanted to work in a larger firm, with expertise in a wide range of areas, and the resources and network to start my legal career off strong.” 10:50 a.m. KNOCK. 10:55 a.m. “And what draws you to our firm?” “I went to your cocktail reception in February! I really enjoyed those pigs-in-a-blanket you served. Delicious. I think I talked to an associate. He or she seemed cool.” 11:20 a.m. KNOCK. 11:25 a.m. “A great reason to apply here. We definitely stress alcoholism at this firm. Moving on, I saw that you put ‘Jeopardy’ in the interests section of your resume. Let me proceed to tell you about the time I appeared on Wheel of Fortune for the rest of our time together.” 24
11:40 a.m. KNOCK. 11:45 a.m. “Ignore my face of disgust after looking at your grades. Tell me about your summer.” LUNCH You saw at the meat Career Services has provided, allegedly with the fiscal generosity of a firm. The students around you pretend to socialize. 1:10 p.m. KNOCK. 1:15 p.m. “And, through our firm, I’ve gotten to participate in a lot of pro bono that partners pawn off on the associates. It looks really good for P.R. But enough of me talking. I’d rather make you carry this interview. Any questions for me?" “Uh, yeah. What exactly sets you apart from other firms?” “Oh yes, good question. We are completely different from other firms. For instance, some firms are big big law firms. We are a small big law firm.” “How much smaller?” “Hm. Other firms probably have about a thousand lawyers. We have nine hundred, I think.” “Oh, yeah, that’s a huge difference. Um. What are the people like?” “Very fun and different from other firms despite having almost identical backgrounds. Except for our quota of diverse people.” 1:30 p.m. KNOCK. 25
1:35 p.m. “So, what interests you in our firm?” “Um. You funded lunch for us today?” “Oh, we love eating lunch at our firm. I think that’s what makes our firm special.” 1:50 p.m. KNOCK. 1:55 p.m. “Fifteen interviews today? Wow. You must be dying.” “I am. I also think I may be hallucinating. So, what are the people like at your firm?” 2:10 p.m. KNOCK. 2:15 p.m. “…and after that experience this summer I knew I had always wanted to be at a firm of the relatively large or small size of your firm.” “…” “Uh…. are you awake?” “What? Oh, um, yes! What were you saying? Also, who are you, again?” 2:30 pm. KNOCK. 2:35 p.m. “And everyone at this firm is so nice. Very nice. No one is mean. You would totally, definitely not find anyone who is mean at our firm. You haven’t heard anything like that, have you? Because we really are trying to lose that reputation. We even let some people leave the office before nine p.m.! So early!” 26
“Sounds like my dream firm! I mean, any firm that hires living humans—dream firm material right there.” “Oh yes! So, do you have any questions for me?” “Yes! How do I differentiate myself from the forty fungible law students you talk to today and convince you to give me a shot at a job?” BREAK You slump against a wall. You flick one of the eight firm-branded fidget spinners you have acquired. “My name is ____,” you remind yourself. You repeat this mantra to yourself. Your eyes glaze over as you continue to robotically flick the fidget spinner every four and a half seconds. 4:00 p.m. KNOCK. 4:05 p.m. “Wow. Your summer sounds like it was fun. So, any interests other than the ones on your resume?” A beat. “Something not on my resume?” “Yes.” “Oh. Um. Yes. I definitely have a life outside my resume. I think. I like… I like lunch.” 4:30 p.m. KNOCK. 4:35 p.m. The interviewer stares at you.
You stare at the interviewer. Blink. Blink. Blink. Eventually, you leave. 4:50 p.m. KNOCK. 4:55 p.m. “Well, it’s been a long day and I’m pretty sure this fake smile is permanent now. I’m glad you’re interested in our firm, but I’m going to tell you right off the bat that your grades are nowhere near good enough for us to offer you a job.” 5:15 p.m. You step outside. You haven’t left the labyrinthine hotel since eight a.m. Tourists push past you trying to get to the other side of Times Square. Their umbrellas drip onto your now beyond wrinkled suit. You didn’t know it would be raining today. You shove in your earphones as you head for the train home. You forget to turn on music. Sitting on the train, you stare blankly at the ground. Three more days. TOMORROW, 9:00 a.m. KNOCK.
Peace Must Prevail Neeraj R.S.
Trieste, Italy 1 30
Ghost Train John Finnegan
Janine sat on the G, drifting in and out as the train stopped at Nassau. She’d had a long shift on the Upper East Side, placating drunk patrons and making sure glasses stayed full at the dive she worked at. Tips hadn’t been as good as she was used to, which she put down to New Year’s and the Resolutions attending it, tighter belts, tighter wallets, that sort of thing. It was possible she was just getting older and uglier, but nothing to be done about that. The G had come at half past three, creaking into Court Square after she’d spent twenty minutes watching her phone battery deplete and the countdown clock stay stuck at 6 minutes away. Didn’t make much sense that trains would be delayed without anyone on them, but then the G had never made much sense. “This is a Church Avenue bound G train,” the serene female voice announced. “The next stop is, Metropolitan Avenue.” The doors shut, the train pulling away into the awaiting tunnel. Janine relaxed, trying to enter that peculiar state of half-awareness that let so many New Yorkers zone out until the doors opened on their own stop. She’d seen straphangers slumped, eyes closed, for thirty minutes, only to jolt out of their seat and stagger into the cold, the streets calling them home. It hadn’t happened for her yet, but Janine was hopeful. It’d only been six weeks at her new place by the park, but she already felt like she knew the route, like it was hers now, a space of her own at last (even if she had to share it with three others). 35 more minutes, less even at this hour. Her eyes flickered close but opened again a moment later—she wasn’t quite confident enough in her sixth sense to fall asleep yet. The car was almost empty. A few old men, their eyes haggard, hands shaking as they sat in silence. A teenager slumped against the pole, headphones on, bobbing his head to the music. And a homeless man, asleep on the bench across from her. All harmless, as far as she could tell. She spent a few minutes going over her day in her mind. Wasn't much there to think about—she'd gotten up, thought about working out, fallen back asleep, gone to work a few hours later. Her eyes closed again as they passed Broadway. “This is the last stop on this train,” she heard above. Eyes opening, she jumped up. “Please exit the train.” 4:15 a.m. the countdown clock read. She’d missed her stop. She checked her dying phone, calculating the walk: 30 minutes. Might as well wait for the train to turn around. 31
Janine looked around the car to see who was left—just the homeless man, still asleep, shivering a bit. The G wasn’t the warmest train in the system since it went above ground for a bit, but the man must have known that. Maybe he’d been kicked off the E train by a rival, exiled to Brooklyn and Queens. It didn’t matter, she wasn’t getting off the train until it turned back around. “Please exit the train,” the voice repeated. “You must exit the train,” it said again. Janine frowned. It wasn’t really the last stop, of course. The F kept going to Stillwell Avenue for quite some time—the G, after all, was only a short part of the hundreds of miles of track making up the whole system. Someone had told her the exact amount once—635? 665? She sat back down, waiting for the turnaround, trying to remember. A gruff voice came on the speaker, breaking the recording halfway through. “G train, next stop Church Ave.” The doors closed, screeching shut. Janine shook her head. Weren't they already at Church Ave? Whatever. After that it’d be her stop, and then a short walk to her bed, where she’d be able to sleep until ten, god willing, until her shift at the café down the block started. She sighed, remembering that she should write another chapter of her book sometime this week. It was Thursday—no, Friday now. She hadn’t written a chapter in ages, since the program had ended and left her with $15,000 worth of debt. Too busy, she’d told herself, but truth was she’d forgotten how to end it. It didn’t matter, she told herself—tomorrow, well, the morning is a new day. The homeless man stirred as the train pulled away into the tunnel, shifting in his sleep. Who knew what dreams were troubling him? The lights cut out as they left the station, leaving her alone in the darkness. The train traveled on, screeching as it turned, crawling down the tunnel. Janine waited for the lights to come back on but they didn’t. At least the other side of the station would be here soon—it couldn’t take that long to go around the bend. “This was the last stop on this train,” the announcer said, the voice—she thought—a little higher-pitched. “Please exit the train. You should exit the train.” It looped again, filling the car, lights still off. Janine heard the man across from her sit up. “What the fuck is going on,” he said, as the voice looped again. He sounded scared, Janine thought, and young. “I don’t know,” she responded, “we’re turning around at Church Ave and the announcements went nuts.” She turned the flashlight of her phone on—4%—and saw the man’s face for the first time. He had a short beard, dirty; his eyes were wide, pupils dilated. “You must exit the train,” the recording whined, the train continuing to screech as it turned. “Exit the train.” 32
Trieste, Italy 2
The man got up. “I’m going to a different compartment,” he said. “This shit’s busted and I’m trying to sleep.” Janine nodded. “I’ll come with you.” He grunted, walking towards the end of the car. You weren’t supposed to walk between them when it was moving, Janine knew, but she’d done it a few times, usually drunk and feeling dangerous. She supposed he must do it all the time. They stopped at the door; he pulled it open, the screeching from outside growing much louder, and stepped out. “Shit.” He said, quiet at first then louder. “Shit Shit Shi—” “Exit the train,” the voice said. “What’s wrong,” Janine asked, raising her voice against the noise. “What’s happening, why aren’t you—” “We can’t,” the man shouted back, “the compartments—they’re fucked up—too far to jump.” He stepped back inside and hauled the door shut, gasping. The train rumbled on. “Exit the train,” the voice said. “What do you mean—the compartments are too far apart--that’s nonsense, haven’t you ever done this?” Janine asked. She pushed in front of him, opened the door, stepped out. Shit. The other compartment should have been right there—it was always right there, she knew, it had to be but it wasn’t. The link between the cars was long, far longer than it’d ever been, a thin line of metal, barely wide enough to step on one foot at a time. It looked like the distance was ten feet, at least. Janine looked towards the tracks below, saw nothing. Just the screeching all around, echoing down the tunnel, and the voice behind her, “Exit the Train.” She stepped back inside, closed the door, collapsing on the seat nearest it. “What the fuck,” she said. “What the flying fuck.” The man had fallen into the booth opposite, his hands shaking. “Exit the train,” the voice said. “We can’t exit it you motherfucker,” the man screamed. “Stop the goddamn thing.” Janine shrank back in her seat. The train rumbled to a halt in the tunnel, still dark. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are being 34
momentarily held by the train’s dispatcher.” The doors remained closed. “Thank fucking god,” the man said, still shaking. “Jesus.” They stared at each other in the dim light of Janine’s phone, flash still on. Then it went out. 0%. “Fuck,” she said. The man sighed across from her. She heard him stand up. “Where are you going?” she asked. “I’m exiting the train,” he said. “Like it told us.” “You’re gonna—go out—there? In the tunnel?” He sighed again. “Yeah. Wouldn’t be the first time.” He walked to the end of the car. “Can come with if you want.” She stood up. “I—I don’t—” He pulled the door open, the screech cutting her off. “Yeah. I figured. See you around.” He stepped out, pulled the door closed behind him. She didn’t hear anything after that, but stood up and grasped the pole in the middle of the car, holding onto it with hands forced to grip as they trembled. The tunnel was silent; she thought she felt the floor swaying but knew—or thought—that couldn't be true. At last the train lurched forward again with a whimper, started to move. The lights flickered back on after a few seconds. She stared at her reflection in the window across from her, took in the tired eyes, the slumped shoulders, the still frightened look. The train stopped at the next station. “This is, Fort Hamilton Parkway. The next stop is, Fifteenth Street, Prospect Park.” The voice was normal again, calm, soothing. She stumbled out and watched the train pull away, noting the countdown clock—twenty minutes until the next one, 4:25 a.m. She headed up the stairs, the sound of the subway fading behind her.
Chasing the Sunset Jin Sol Lee
Colors of God Dian Watson I see it everywhere I go The wonder and beauty of nature's hue Each color revealing a different view Of God's persona and majesty too Green reminds us He provides Abundantly every need supplies Yellow tells us His love gratifies Warm, unconditional, sacrificially sanctifies In blue His peace naturally resound Surpassing understanding, it embraces all round Red is his passion, deep emotions abound Relentless, unwavering, they often confound He makes all things possible, gray is declaring A constant reminder before showers of blessing With brown His Goodness is ever speaking Constant, reliable and never changing. Purple announces His Royal Highness Resplendent beauty, awesome and timeless The color pink divulges His tenderness Gentle and kind, His mercies measureless With white He tells us He is pure Holy, flawless, righteous and true Black proclaims His mysterious nature Superior thoughts devising unusual favor Through orange His creativity we celebrate Enthusiasm and joy from Him emanate Converged in the rainbow the colors radiate The truth of the promises of One so great.
Life of a Fury Daniel Klein I once joined the furies In their claw-footed bathtub, blowing Pink, strawberry scented bubbles between Their asparagus-lined teeth. The bottle Said ‘No Tears’, but I cried like an armadillo With a deflated balloon wrapped about its waist. I’ve had a grown waffle Erupt from the drain after its previous owner Flushed it down the toilet the week before – a breakfast ever forgotten, never avenged. Songs flowed like syrup from its checkered boxes And lingered there like the Antarctic sun: “Pancakes are inferior, Cooked without a grid. A waffle is superior, Just ask any kid...” Like a dog eating math homework, The furies devoured the waffle in the middle Of its second verse, wiping their greasy snake Tongues on a French fried hairnet, Which they then placed atop my head, The hot oil running into my teary eyes Like steaming manticore’s urine. I asked my leave thereafter, and politely Slapped each fury on the foamy snout, As is customary, and I was whisked Away in a cloud of rare orangutan gnats Ooohing and aaahing and waving their six furry appendages. When I removed the hairnet, I noticed a few shreds Of waffle flesh like soggy pencil shavings And I smiled.
Little Baby Louis Janice Lee
The Myth of Sisyphus Randall Weber-Levine The gods decided Sisyphus’ fate. He would ceaselessly “roll a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight.” But their punishment failed from the very start. For the struggle itself was enough to fill Sisyphus’ heart. It may sound sappy, but rolling his rock, Sisyphus was happy. Thus, upon review, the gods decided to try something new. At the top of the mountain, they placed a machine. It was large, it was slick, and boy did it gleam. As soon as you step inside and slide its metallic door shut, the machine floods you with pleasure without a rut. You don’t forget who you are; your interests and passions remain. You remember your life and you still have your brain. Yes, an option, how perfect the gods thought! Now each time Sisyphus makes it to the mountain top, he will pause and stop. He will ask himself: should I continue to roll the rock and test my measure, or should I enter the machine and live a life of pleasure? The wind will sway and the wind will blow. The mind is fickle. This much the gods know. For now Sisyphus may be content; but day after day, year after year, the gods believe he will question the time spent. The option to take the easy way out rests at the top. His mind will dwell on it and his mind will rot. Sisyphus challenged us, the gods thought. Now everyone will learn the lesson that Sisyphus should have been taught. But Sisyphus is no ordinary man. He will never give up his rock for another plan. For he understands something that no god can: happiness is not pleasure. No. No. Not at all. Happiness requires spills and it requires falls. Only by stepping through the door of accomplishment can you enter the room of happiness. Yes, this much Sisyphus was sure. Entering the pleasure machine would be no cure. Happiness and pleasure are not on par; unless pleasure follows war.
The Lights Will Guide You Neeraj R.S.
Childhood Lost Kit Venna To my lost sister, that you’ll find your way home Sunlight filters through spring leaves, the air minty and fresh with color, each bough laden with an offering to the gods of the wood. Leaves soft with the mud of melted snow deaden your footsteps. “Look there!” The sunlight has escaped the trees to fall softly on your chestnut hair, a wreath of light on a circle of willow leaves you wear as a crown. Your long arm ends with a crooked finger pointing into the shadow of the woods. “Where?” I see only light and pollen hanging in the still air. I rub my nose and shake my head. “There, the portal!” Eagerness lights your eyes and I can feel the mystery of this place enveloping me like a cloak, like the mottled cape you always wore, the greens and browns of the wood, an elven princess in mortal form. “Where?” I strain my eyes impatiently and readjust my own willow wreath. It itches and I sneeze. “The portal! See?” You patiently trace the air where the trees come together to create a loop, a crooked circle. My eyes widen, “Where does it lead?” I whisper. You smile slightly and walk forward, your feet springing gently on the moss before the trees. “Let’s find out.” Fear grips my belly and suddenly the green light looks sinister. I shake my head in fear and take a step back. “What if we can’t get back?” But you are brimming with excitement and your imagination winds its way around the woods, weaving in the space between us. As you speak of this other world, you pick foliage and I step forward entranced, the beautiful threads of the story pulling me closer. By the end, you’ve entwined my curiosity piece by piece into an intricate, haphazard circle of vines and leaves—powerful magical plants, you say, that can protect us and lead us home. I reach out, hesitantly. I can feel your exhilaration urging me to hold the circle. I look in 42
your deep brown eyes and grasp the leaves. My heart beats fast as you turn and lead us through the portal. The moss on the other side feels the same, but the air crackles with your imagination. Forest sounds magnify and become sinister—the air dims and flickers. I grasp the flimsy circle of leaves tighter, my feet are rooted in fear, but you walk slowly forward. “Let’s go back!” I whisper, but you are filled beyond hearing with the whispers of your world. My knuckles tighten over the dream catcher, yet you keep walking, the circle straining between us. “Come ON!” You say. But I am scared and in a step the circle unwinds and the leaves fall gently to the forest floor. You turn back, as I look down in fear and horror. I look up. You’re afraid too. I see this world fill your eyes, the light and dark of it dancing in the flecks of your irises. You rush forward to grab my trembling hand, pulling me back through the portal. “It’s ok” you whisper, shaking, “it’s ok, we’re back.” Your arms wrap around me, but I can hear your heart beat like a small bird against the hurricane winds of your imagination. “Let’s go home,” I whisper. You nod and we turn our backs on the portal and run away, hand-in-hand. I glance backward as we tumble out of the woods, the shadows playing tricks with my mind. I tremble then shake my head vigorously and sneeze again. The shadows are gone. There are the woods—normal trees, grass, and vines. We pick ourselves up and you begin chattering away like a squirrel in the sunshine about elves and fairies, footsteps suddenly light. Soon, I can see home up ahead, warm and inviting, and I strain against your hand, pulling you forward. Behind your words, that world still stands, a cloaked figure in your imagination, hidden and sinister. You resist, so I let go, run to the door, and panting with exertion, put my back up against the sturdy wood. You meander still in the meadow, laughing, gathering the last of our childhood magic in your arms, crushing it to your chest, inhaling its sweet scent. But I left something behind in the shadows of the morning light—a lost princess in a lost wood that I never found again.
Delhi Bookstore 44
carne, 1970 Krystal Vasquez
birth certificate switches out 1947 for 1949: I feel two years younger eating my es-steak dinners solito with a bottle of wine and sangre pools on my plate in italian restaurants the morena calls me she wants an hombre who’s handsy around the house in the factory I’m draped in cuts of 800-pound animal grease up to my knees
shift after shift --- any sweat that collects is swallowed by the snow balls of her brown hair mount in my tio’s trashcan towering over his shit-stained toilet paper boys ride tractors outside and the prairie chills my sears western wear pushing me pacific and I don’t turn to see what the plow left behind.
she’s as short as my mother who serves endless bowls of frijoles de la olla to my brothers and sisters back home in el rancho I block out the pig squeals and hurl flesh onto steel floor trucks and wood plank boxcars she yawns then sighs into my chest pain building in my back 45
A Fish Out of Tequila Sarah Schnorrenberg When Pete first woke up on a beer pong table that morning, he was hugging a tequila bottle. It was your normal Tuesday morning, except that the bottle had a fish in it. “Mom!” he hollered hoarsely, slamming his eyes shut against the fluorescent light of the hanging lamp he had swung from the night before like a less-fit, 21st century Tarzan. “Why is there a fish?” The door at the top of the basement steps opened, and a head full of pink rollers poked through. “I don’t know, dear. Do you want waffles for breakfast or eggs?” “Pancakes,” Pete said and his mother left. He frowned at the fish. It was purple, and the size of one the beer can tabs littering the floor. Kind of like those fish in the aquarium that were just there to fill up space and swim in the background, while you looked at the fish from Finding Nemo. The bottle was mostly empty, but the fish kept chugging through the tequila in a small, continuous circle. If you took proportions into account, the fish was beating Pete’s own tequila-chugging record. Pete didn’t take proportions into account. The tequila bottle sat on the usually empty chair between Pete and his mother for breakfast. The fish circled the corner of pancake Pete had stuffed into the bottle. “Are you keeping it?” Pete’s mother asked, refastening a roller with syrupy fingers. The syrup slowly dribbled down her mousy brown hair and onto the robe Pete’s father had bought her thirty-one Christmases ago. Pete shrugged and poured syrup into the tequila bottle to accompany the pancake corner. “Maybe one of your friends left it? You know we still have Phil Stillman’s coat from your junior year of high school.” “Mom, I know. You won’t shut up about it,” said Pete, dropping his fork onto the plate. He picked up the tequila bottle and retreated to his basement for his morning nap. His mother got up from her own barely touched pancakes to place his plate in the sink and clear his unused napkin. When Pete woke up on the beer pong table for the second time that morning, he decided that night’s party would be the largest party yet, in honor of the homeless fish. Mike was the first to show up to the party. He was wearing his old Quizbowl jacket. Number 7. Pete was Number 8. He would never forgive the injustice of this ranking. “Dude!” Pete cried as his old friend stomped down the stairs. “Who died in 1937, after writing a 1904 play turned into a bestselling children’s book in 1911?” “J.M. Barrie,” said Mike, pulling the beer out of Pete’s hand. “Was that supposed to be a hard one, Pete? You’re not going easy on me, are you?” Pete was going easy on Mike. Back in their college years, Mike froze when asked 46
to name the first female prime minister of the U.K., and said Hillary Clinton, resulting in a humiliating defeat. Now, nine years later, Pete still held a grudge. But Pete didn’t have to tell Mike that. Before they could begin their traditional game of Answer or Alcohol, Pete brought out the tequila bottle, to the initial excitement of the only Quizbowler who still came around. Then Mike saw the fish. “Wait, is that a fish?” asked Mike, staring at it. “Yep,” Pete said, shrugging his shoulders. “I’ll drink it anyways,” said Mike to his almost empty beer. “Is he yours?” Pete asked, glancing at the bottle. Even though the fish hadn’t touched the now-disintegrating pancake it was now so big enough that its eyes poked above the surface of the tequila as it scooted around the bottle’s bottom. “Why would he be mine?” Mike said as he grabbed his second beer. “And why does it matter? Who cares about a stupid little fish?” Mike snorted and gulped down his beer. With a small laugh, Pete put the tequila bottle back on its shelf. Soon you couldn’t even see the tequila in the bottle and the fish had a new brown hint to it. The fish didn’t have enough room to keep circling the bottle when Pete showed it to his colleagues, though colleagues might not have been the best name for them. He had only worked with John for two and a half months at the 7-11 down the street and it had been several years since Darlene was his fellow barista. Pete considered them some of his best friends; they showed up to all of his parties, even if all they ever did was drink the free alcohol. Before they could disappear among the strangers who filled his basement, Pete asked them if the fish was theirs. John stared at the bottle, a glazed look in his eye, and asked if it was cannibalism for a fish to eat a Swedish fish. “Not mine,” Darlene shrugged. “You should give it a name.” She pushed past the homeless man Pete had met earlier that day in search of the keg. John pulled a deformed Swedish fish out of his pocket, stuffed it in the bottle of tequila, and stumbled off to relieve himself in Pete’s mother’s favorite vase. “George,” Pete said, looking at the fish. “You look like a George.” Earlier that day, Pete had driven down to the old Quizbowl team house, as he did every Tuesday. He was like an older brother to these guys and girls, tutoring them, helping them through relationship crises, and occasionally providing a few bottles of vodka. He had walked into on that Tuesday to hear a girl declaring that Professor Oakes was by far the worst professor she had ever had. “Are you sure?” asked Pete, placing the liquor onto the counter. “Professor Oakes was my favorite. She got me through Econ 101.” 47
“He teaches anthropology and is a sociopath,” the girl said, staring at Pete. “Who are you?” The boy next to her rolled his eyes. “Jane, that’s the dude who brings us alcohol.” “It’s Pete,” Pete said, clutching the vodka bottles. “I’m a Quizbowl champion.” “Right… well, you delivered the alcohol,” the girl said, talking as if Pete were a toddler in a man’s body. “Thanks!” Later Pete was asked to give back his key, but informed he was still more than welcome to make them alcoholic donations. Only one of his buddies from his old Alcoholics Anonymous group showed up to the party. [Redacted] stared at George’s bottle. “I’d heard tequila bottles had worms in them, but I didn’t realize they were that large,” he said with a small sigh, looking into the eyes of the fish that squished up against the glass, slightly pulsating. [Redacted] watched silently by the beer pong table for three games before leaving. Pete almost killed Wendell on his way back from the Quizbowl house. The man had fallen asleep on the side of a small road near Pete’s mother’s house. Pete didn’t realize his slightly molding coat was not a pile of roadside debris until he was close enough to see fingers. After slamming on the brakes and leaping out of the car, Pete found his bumper had only missed the man by a few inches. “Are you okay?” Wendell wiped his eyes, yawned, and turned over as if to go back to sleep. “Do you have anywhere to go?” “I have everywhere to go.” As Pete pulled him up, Wendell moved to lean a hand on the hood of the car, but stumbled and fell to lean entirely on the hood of the car. Pete had done the same countless times and he saw a younger version of himself in this much older man. “You can come back with me,” Pete said as he started to herd Wendell into the passenger seat. Pete carefully buckled the man in and returned to the wheel. He glued his eyes to the pavement stretching out in front of him, only letting himself glimpse back to the seat next to him to make sure Wendell hadn’t disappeared. The man watched the scenery pass them by. Pete turned to Wendell as they pulled up into Pete’s mother’s driveway. “Do you like pancakes?” It was midnight, nearly everyone had gone home, and George had still not been claimed. He gasped in the tequila bottle, his sticky flesh sucking the clear glass trapezoid he was crammed into. There was a wide expanse of empty floor around the bottle, and Pete stopped there for a second after shoving his way through what must have been six times the number of people he had invited. Pete wasn’t sure George could live outside the 48
bottle, but he also wasn’t sure George could continue to live inside the bottle. The wheezing sound of air regurgitated against glass was growing louder. A few people began pushing their way towards the steps. Pete cradled the tequila bottle to his chest for one last second and then knocked it into the beer pong table, barely scraping the glass. Pete knocked it harder. Nothing. He thrust it, slammed it, battered it into the table. Nothing, nothing, nothing. He went to lift the bottle to his chest again, but his shaking hands slipped from the neck of the bottle, and down it went. It shattered, the glass breaking into thousands of unrecognizable pieces. George slugged out of the remains of the tequila bottle, swaying as he scooted forward on his wriggling belly, collecting the shards of glass left in its wake, and leaving behind a syrupy trail. George snuggled up next to Pete’s feet. “You named it after your father?” Phil Stillman asked, looking at Pete like he had grown three heads. “George is a he, not an it,” said Pete. “Pete. You woke up to a fish in a bottle of tequila, the fish got so big you had to break it out of the bottle, and you named it after your deadbeat father. Do you need to talk to someone?” “I’ve talked to plenty of people today,” Pete said, nodding towards the crowd around them and reaching to scratch George behind where George’s earholes might have been. “Yeah, and how many of them do you know?” Phil Stillman said. “That’s Wendell in the corner,” Pete said. “I met him today. We’re friends.” “Really?” Pete nodded. Phil sighed. He had never sighed like that back in high school. It was the same sigh Pete’s mother made when Pete spilled Coors all over his freshly laundered pants, or when he invited twenty-seven of his closest friends to dinner. “Look, Pete, I need to go home. Work tomorrow and all. Have a good night; I wish you luck with…the fish. Happy 30th.” Phil waved solemnly as he retreated, a stiff smile plastering his face. “Thanks,” Pete said, patting George on the head. prise.
Pete invited his father, but his father didn’t show up that night. It wasn’t a sur-
The last time Pete ever saw Wendell was that night. Everyone had left, except Wendell. Wendell sat next to Pete on the couch. Together they watched as George ate a wine cork and a solo cup in slow succession. “Where are you going to go?” Pete said, fiddling with the cuff on his Quizbowl jacket. Wendell shrugged. “I dunno, dude.” 49
“Gonna go home?” “Nah. I hate roots. I live everywhere. Wherever I can get to.” Wherever Wendell could get to was about a two-mile radius centered on the liquor store that let him pay in coins. “Hm,” said Pete. “I just don’t wanna get trapped, right?” Pete nodded and pretended to be thoughtful. George finished the solo cup and moved onto Wendell’s shoe. He bit off a toe, but Wendell was asleep by that point, and Pete followed soon after. By morning Wendell would be gone. Pete’s mother woke him up on his 30th birthday on top of a beer pong table, with a giant fish underneath him, snuggling under his legs. “Happy birthday,” she said, brushing a rum-soaked cowlick down. “I made you pancakes.” She turned to go up the stairs, but did not make it up them before George had caught up to her and taken a bite out of her ankle. By the time Pete had removed himself from the beer pong table, all that was left of his mother was a few hair rollers and a thirtyone-year-old robe. Pete stood at the pile of robes and rollers, as George made his way up the stairs and towards the pancakes. A chill ran up his spine. He didn’t know how to make his own pancakes.