__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1


MASTHEAD Keri Karandrakis Editor-in-chief

Lydia Havens Executive Poetry Editor, Assistant Editor-in-chief

Lucas Anderson Executive Prose Editor

Juliette Leader Executive Art Editor

Swati Barua

N ikki Bagwell Anna Leader Audrey Oh Alexander Ren

R alitsa Belchewa

Ethan Brightbill

Alison Chai

Erica Guo

Celeste Collado

Jenny Jung

Lindsay Emi

Alexa Kreizinger

Jasmine Gui

H annah N ahar

Stephanie H su

Ekaterina Tikhoniouk

Jeremy N athan M arks

ART EDITORS

POETRY READERS

PROSE READERS


TABLE OF CON T EN T S Four Years to the Day // 03 Self Portrait, No Face // 04 Lucid Dream Lining // 05 April // 06 Variations on a Theme // 07 Untitled // 10 Winter Solace // 11 Interview // 13 Nirvana // 17 Escape from the Grid // 18 Your Ears Should Be Burning // 19 Wrenched // 27 Hel-Cat // 28 All Things Unsaid // 29 Untitled // 30 Everything Is Sky in Kansas // 31 Interview // 32 Gef端hle in Deutsch Klasse // 35 Keep me Warm // 38 Fuzhounese; Child // 39 Contributors // 42

01


02


Four Years to the Day Katherine Frain after and the hallways are darkened with smoke and the streets remember rain. I?m thinking about the price of an abortion and the price of three bruised pomegranates and the price of a sewing needle. I have finally been kissed. Through the blue curtains, some of this is trying to be snow. Failure on impact. Meaning it dissolves when hit. I haven?t tried to hang myself again. In front of the dark cars straying out, red lights refract like other children who came to school and set themselves on fire. When I say haven?t tried I mean haven?t tried lately. There?s a thick red rope wrapped around my door. The first boy who saw it asked if I liked to tie people down. Yes, I said. No, I said.

03


Self Portrait, No Face Morgan Griffiths

04


Lucid Dream Lining TerĂŠ Fowler-Chapman The cracking | sounds like a rumble of desire for a raveled world to see me whole | to see me present | to see my heart beating | the cracking sounds like a ricochet of narrowed eyes | shooting like blanks or the cracking in a neck snapping away from your grin | a neck snapping to a purse when you are walking | sometimes | sometimes I trick myself into believing there was a split road and I cried down the wrong cross street | That I shoulda been on Uranus studying the blues | I shoulda been a gigantic ice cube that was so slow in the quickness of the wind I could see it all coming | Once | in a dream | my daughter?s braid swung low bright eyed and hands rich with clouds that shoulda been sand asked me | she said ma | ma what kind of man are you? | I think about the man | that man that was a poet or that poet that was a man the one that said like I know some boys on my blocks who write me out of the water | But it?s like we all have alarms | Some of us know which ones to not set off I tell her | I say that that | I am the man that settles in | detonates | explodes | but I want to be the man that knows what to do with all that dust.

05


April Priyanka Padidam Last April I wrote a song in my dream. In it, my song was playing on the radio. I had my head sticking out of the car window, and I was singing along, all the way down Dream Street for all my dream neighbors to hear. I sang my song in the shower that morning so as not to forget it. I sang my song to you, so as not to forget it. And it became our secret, something we even kept from each other. That scared me a little. I heard you humming my song as we worked on a French project. Flipping through the dictionary, my eyes coming to rest on all the wrong words, I listened to my dream become your secret become the space between us. Today, the only thing I remember about the song I wrote in my dream is the way it made me feel. Like we had access to a part of the brain that nobody else knew about. But I doubt you remember any of this? just a skeletal melody and generic lyrics, ?Don?t leave me, baby, I love you,? or something like that. When you sang my song absentmindedly in the car, it suddenly occurred to me that it was true, I loved you. But nothing is ever as good as it feels in those moments. Remember how we used to look at each other across the classroom when something was unintentionally funny? Or when a word conjured up a memory from our collective? Somehow we always looked at the same time. Well, it all comes back to being in separate rooms, going through hell, and not being able to look at each other about it. I miss wanting it to rain, and when the air got heavy and the windows fogged up. I miss waiting for things that were on their way, like the bus or the summer or a text from you, or all three at the same time. I was always asking you to sing me the human songs. You were always forgetting what you had to tell me. It was always us in April, talking about what could have been our lives. ??

06


Variations on a Theme Michelle Chen ?If many remedies are prescribed for an illness, you may be certain that the illness has no cure.? ? A.P. Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard 1. Celexa Insomniac, lay me down upon your bed so I may see the hibiscus in your palm that keeps you restless. I first saw your mesas carved in ink, a psychotropic mystique, my mother?s terror. A psychiatrist once birthed you, sent you into mind kicking and screaming and my own blood sent you back piece by piece from the pillow of the earth grieving, disbelief launching each fossil beyond the pine trees, rising like snow in reverse. O dry bones of winter, eat up, eat up? anonymous & insoluble

07


2. Ativan Like all things, spring is the annual king of what it sings. Today, like the red mouth of a baby, it sings to you. Benzodiazepine, you?re welcome to sprawl and snooze on my brown leather futon, faceless and featureless like the best of dreams. It?s appropriate?a less agreeable mother, a fat, fat block like the triplet gorges of Yangtze. Like the chances of poor Oliver getting more, you sand the desert with water. Chopping apples, brushing hair, bitter peels falling like parachutes. There?s energy in this dam if you?ll only plant the tomato seedlings deeper, write to dent the next page, cry when placebo becomes all too true. 3. Prozac There it goes the famous name. Succinct and two-lipped, you fold your ivories delicately and let them fall like birds into pools of liquid grime, the ashtrays of the warm sea. Serotonin, I lost you, but hysterically you were back there all along, like a Russian doll. When I was young my mother would grab my arm and point at the Christmas lights lining the roads and snow as if directing a dog to a spot to defecate. Their summer ghosts haunt me still along the odd black sidewalk hill. In the hot sun she punctures, withers with mysterious ills, and paces morningside to my hand to deposit the pill.

08


4. Abilify My mind is not scrambled eggs, though everyone besides my mother believes that my thoughts have become the consistency of abortion, the viscosity of falling aspen and sassafras leaves. I say I want to go to Italy, Alaska, Singapore, Mount Sinai Hospital. No one agrees, but no one is me. My mother is open, pouring, spouting as if she were the fountain of youth. I am not youthful. Mildly sweet, the round green button goes down with water, or not at all, unless I manage an ocean of spit. Now my limbs tremble on a far higher frequency than anyone can hear and my neck fossilizes in every passing stillness. Any shelter from autumnal storms drags me to Lethe, to the heels of Janus. Call these side effects, but I am content. A psychiatrist once told me, ?I think that the psychiatrist and the poet are natural enemies.? I concede that I may be lightning in a tornado or a pig to a human, but maybe content is enough.

09


Untitled Rosa Furneaux

10


W inter Solace Enrique GarcĂ­a Naranjo ?I gave him the persimmons, swelled, heavy as sadness, and sweet as love.? - L i Young L ee

As if the clouds have fallen to the ground, stacked like piles of blankets. I can see the footprints stomped into the snow, footprints zigzagging? one ahead of the other. Pairs of trails intersecting like poorly mapped roads. These are the winters in Kearns, too cold to withstand. El abrigo. The hot chocolate. Los besos en la maĂąana? my mother?s green eyes scanning my figure to make sure I had more layers of clothing than bare skin. These are the winters in Treasure Valley, full of solace in fog & hibernating wishes over frozen bridges.

11


This is where I learned how to produce heat with my frail brown hands, where I learned how to distinguish shadows and the steam of my breath. This is where Mexicans keep their sun gods in shrines, where there is a slow hum in every casita. These are winters in South Tucson, brimming with shivering saguaro & an absence of sun. There are only solstice showers & the splendor of frost over my lawn?s surface as if the clouds have fallen to the ground, spread like icing on pan dulce.

12


I n t he M argins: An I nt erview wit h Brianna Albers Brianna Albers is a poet, writer, and storyteller, located in the Minneapolis suburbs. A student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she is currently studying psychology and the philosophy of literature. While her poems can be found in Words Dance and Winter Tangerine Review, she is currently compiling a collection of her poetry; her dĂŠbut chapbook is forthcoming, hopefully. Her fingers are crossed. Interview conducted by Keri Karandrakis

K er i K ar andr akis: Could you tell us a bit about Spinal M uscular Atrophy? Brianna Albers: I was diagnosed with type II of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) around nine months of age. SMA is a genetic disorder that affects the control of muscle movement. The loss of motor neurons results in muscle weakness and degeneration, to the point of physical disability and, oftentimes, a weak immune system. Upon diagnosis, the doctors gave me nine years to live. I was in and out of hospitals for the first four years or so, suffering from pneumonia and oftentimes spending prolonged periods of times in intensive care. I actually spent my birthday in the hospital once. It wasn't fun, but my parents did the best they could to take my mind off everything, and for that I owe them everything. I'm 19, now, so clearly the doctors' predictions weren't entirely accurate. With time, my immune system grew stronger, despite the fact that my muscles continued to decline. I was never able to walk. I spent several months just learning how to drive a wheelchair without running into walls. There were a lot of things I couldn't do, though, even with the assistance of a wheelchair. I remember watching my neighbors jump on their trampolines during the summer months and feeling a strange mixture of happiness and sorrow. There's also the everyday things that I'm still reliant on other people for: bathing, dressing, eating. There's no such thing as privacy in my life. K K : What do you think is the number one thing that people misunder stand about SM A, or physical disability in gener al? What would you say to them? BA: It often feels like I, as someone with SMA, or even as someone with a physical disability, am denied my own humanity. Denied the right to be present in the world around me, to exist. People? strangers?

13


oftentimes just stare at me, unabashedly, like I'm some sort of carnival attraction. But the worst part isn't the stares themselves; it's the secrecy. People stare at me and, when I go to look, they turn and cower. They whisper. They point at me, tell their children to "avoid me" or to "watch out for the wheelchair," like I can't hear them. Like I don't exist. And that saddens me. Not because it's inhumane, but because it strips me of my right to be normal. To be human. I mean, I'm different. There's no getting around that. The wheelchair, the twisted wrists, the crooked teeth ? even my voice is different, weakened by chronic disuse. And I don't necessarily want to erase that part of my identity. What I want, more than anything, is to be recognized and seen as a human being. As someone three-dimensional, beyond the surface. One of the most common assumptions that people make is to see someone with a physical impairment and immediately jump to mental illness or retardation. I don't know how many times I've had people? complete strangers? come up to me and treat me like a child. When I'm out with friends or my parents, any questions are directed to the people I'm with. Even questions like "What's her name?" or "How old is she?" I'm ignored. Bypassed. Invisible. And that, I think, has socialized me more than anything else, because I always feel the need to assure people of my intelligence, like it's something I'm trial for. People ask about my schooling and my response is immediate. Sometimes I'll even list off all my accomplishments, just to make sure they can't misunderstand: participation in two honor societies, graduated high school magna cum laude, and so on. I'm not trying to inflate my own worth; it's literally a fight to define myself, because if I don't, others will decide for me, and oftentimes their definition includes some version of the (grossly misused) term 'retard'. I want people to approach me. I want people to ask me questions, to engage me in dialogue, to be honest in their curiosity. Little kids are always the highlights of my outings, because there's no shame in the way they act around me. They stare. They point. They tug on their mothers' sleeves and ask, pointedly, "What's wrong with her?" And I love that. I love being approached by kids, because their intentions are so pure. They don't hide. They're just curious, and that curiosity gives me an opportunity to show them how human I am. It gives me autonomy, the chance to define myself in terms I'm comfortable with, as opposed to the marginalization of modern society. There's no shame in not knowing. There is, however, in acting on ignorance. K K : When people say mean things, whether out of ignor ance or out of spite, what do you do to remind your self of your wor th? BA: I am constantly working to surround myself with positive energies. That probably sounds strange, but it's something I adamantly believe in. I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for the people that have loved me out of corners: my parents, my friends, my online communities. They stand with me on my good days and bad; they talk me through anxiety attacks and encourage me, persistently, to overcome. When I'm doubting my own worth, they are there. When I need reassurance, they are there. When I need a Netflix buddy or someone to rant at, they are there. I couldn't get through this, my day-to-day existence, without them. I owe them my life.

14


That being said, I think it's important to understand where the "mean things" come from. Are people capable of spite? Absolutely. But I've learned that, for the most part, people don't think about their actions. It's subconscious, ingrained. We're socialized towards ableism, which means that, in many cases, it's not a personal attack. It's not about me specifically; it's a symptom of something bigger. A sickness in society, the institutionalization of oppression through socialization. Which gives me something to rally against. An enemy to fight. K K : Par t of the societal ableism we see is stereotypes. One of these stereotypes is that disabled people are inherently asexual, especially disabled women. How do you feel that this stereotype affects you, and what can we all do to address that and other stereotypes we may har bor, consciously or unconsciously? BA: My sexuality and my identity as a disabled woman intersect in so many ways, mostly with regards to my self-concept. I've spent so much time believing that I was undesirable, that I would never be wanted? physically, emotionally, mentally. As a child, I mistakenly believed that sexual pleasure was something a woman was supposed to dole out, so naturally it made sense that I'd consider myself incapable of sexual relations. If my only function was to give sexual pleasure, and my physical disability kept me from doing so, that could mean only one thing: I was defunct. I had no purpose. Sexuality would never be something I'd experience. Still, I struggled to accept that. I wanted to be loved, and more than that, I wanted to be wanted. I wanted to be chosen, despite my failings; I wanted to be accepted as I was, physical deformities and all. I knew, though, that it would never happen, so I started conditioning myself. Whenever I felt myself yearning for intimate relationships, I shut myself down. Told myself, again and again, that I didn't need love, that I would survive just fine on my own. You're being ridiculous. You know it's never going to happen. Why don't you just give up?? intrusive thoughts. In a way, I was trying to protect myself: eradicate the desire, and I'd never have to experience the emptiness of unfulfillment. It was precautionary, and while I may have had the best of intentions, it became something unhealthy. Instead of recognizing my needs and desires for what they were, I suppressed it. Resigned myself to chastity. Made myself a promise, bought myself a ring. Denied myself. Years later, a boy would tell me'd "take me out on a date" if he could, and I remember being shocked. I couldn't believe it. It was the first time in seventeen years that anyone had ever expressed any interest in me, and I was giddy: jumping-around-my-room, tears-in-my-eyes giddy. I eventually told him that sex was never something I considered plausible, and when he asked why, I told him: I'll never be able to please someone sexually, no matter how much I might want to. So why would anyone "put up with" me? Why would someone forego sexual pleasure just to be with me? I didn't understand. I'd conditioned myself so well, so thoroughly, that the thought of being chosen and accepted was alien to me. Naive. He'd respond with something along the lines of, "So?" Nothing more, nothing less. And, for the first time, I would start to wonder.

15


People have asked me if I can have sex. Which makes me laugh? not because it's a ridiculous question, but because there's no reason why I wouldn't be able to. They just assume, and so much of that is directly related to the socialization of sexuality, especially through media. You rarely, if ever, see the disabled in healthy, loving, sexually active relationships, and when you do, they often end in tragedy. Growing up, I never saw myself in mainstream media. There were never any characters I could relate to, characters I could point to and say, "I want to be like her." My issues were never addressed; my people were never recognized. So it makes sense, really, that people look at me and struggle to imagine me in a sexual relationship. Which is why I'm fighting for better representation. For representation, period. I refuse to be invisible. I refuse to be silenced. I am here, and I demand to be seen. I currently identify as gray-asexual, but that's subject to change. Do I want to have sex? Maybe. I don't know. There are days I'm repulsed by the idea and days I'm not, which is why I'm grateful for the fluidity of the asexual spectrum. What I do know is that I will be waiting, not because of religious fanaticism, but because of personal values, and a deep distrust of my own understanding of my sexuality. It's complicated. and I have a long way to go. Fear is intrusive. I'm constantly on the lookout for what I'm calling "survivor habits"? suppression, silence, denial. It takes time. The process of recovery, learning new truths and unlearning old ones, is exhausting, but worth it, always. K K : What advice do you have to disabled and asexual kids (or even adults) who are str uggling with their own identities? BA: I'm a bit biased, since I'm studying to become a therapist, but I can't stress enough how beneficial therapy can be. It doesn't work for everyone, but I've really found that, in my own journey, self-reflection has been key. I would've never started questioning my own sexuality, would've never started to understand how my sexuality has been socialized throughout my lifetime, if I hadn't done the research. It can be scary at times, but it's important to understand that you are loved and accepted, no matter your sexuality. It's okay to question. Finding a safe space, a community you feel comfortable in, will ensure your growth as you go along.

16


Nirvana Parisa Thepmankorn I want to peel my skin off like a lemon rind, expose the metal underneath. I couldn?t speak once, heavy tongue rooted inside throat. But now, the market ladies tell me I?m glowing, steam & otherwise. Sometimes I want to reach inside myself and yank out a heart or lungs, make sure they exist. Nonthaburi ? where home is, or something like that. I am 100% of an ethnicity I have never touched. In Thailand, blue-skirted girls clip their nails to a T before every honeyed morning, stand with their shoulders straight, and I can?t help but think I should know this feeling. My fleshy melon hands, trembling, clasped in prayer, dead fish gasping for air, in meditation for something greater. I don?t know what that is but I know I am so sick of this. Whatever this is. During recess, toddler boys would pull their eyelids into needles, call us all yellow like it was something to be burned. So now, we imagine splattering their soured milk on the walls when we?re speeding, 75 and the wind has a name we can?t pronounce, our mouths looped, durian atrophying behind our teeth, all of us biting down hard.

17


Escape from the Grid Susanne Wawra

18


Your Ears Should Be Burning Daniel Levis Keltner Tom paced the lobby of the swingers club, now only semi-hard and thinking more about his own wife. More than anything, he?d wanted to bed the young woman who was missing her jacket? that is, until her failed somersault outside the club?s restroom confirmed that, yes, she was drunk to the point of being useless, forcing Tom to reconsider partner swapping for the very first time. At least his wife, Delia, knew to wear a jacket during a Chicago winter with the temperature eight degrees and a half-foot of snow on the street. It seemed he?d have to drag the drunk girl from Lincoln Park back to his and Delia?s condo in Edgewater? meaning Tom wasn?t screwing anyone tonight but himself. Sure, he thought of steering her into their bedroom, except then he?d be obliged to tend to the woman if she vomited and nurse her with water and pain relievers for however many hours to flush out the alcohol that would otherwise split her head like a dull axe come dawn. He should have expected as much after the way her husband, Reynold, had said, ?She?s all yours,? stepping gingerly from the table with Delia in arm. Reynold?s eagerness had given Tom pause enough to look back at the woman to confirm she was indeed a woman and that he hadn?t been tricked into trading his wife for a camel. The remark magnified Tom?s uneasiness when the couples were then handed three jackets from the coat check, not four. He wondered whether he were bringing home a woman to lick the backs of her cool thighs, to revel in having a new pair of legs and breasts beneath him, guilt- and drama-free, or instead babysitting Reynold?s wife so that the guy could enjoy a night with Delia. The failed somersault? the fact she?d even attempted a somersault in public? confirmed Tom?s misgivings. After toppling over and sprawling onto her side as if unraveling, the woman found her footing and ungracefully flashed her panties, and then she heralded her trajectory to the restroom with a spurt of giggles, ruddered by a single beauty-queen wave. Unsure if he should return the gesture, to keep in her favor, or not, in order to avoid being publicly associated with such a dingbat, Tom remained paralyzed until she shuffled through the door. By then, Delia had crossed the lobby to stand at his side. ?Do you still want this?? she said, her question intoned as if she herself had not reconsidered. Neither laughter nor tears would right the situation. Again, Tom hesitated to tell the truth.

From the look on her husband?s face? shock, not surprise; amazement, not admiration; amusement, not happiness? even Delia couldn?t mistake that their roles, among other things, had swapped. Delia was monogamous and practical compared to her husband. She?d cried hard, privately, after Tom casually mentioned in bed one night the idea of swinging with another couple, as if sex outside of marriage could ever be discussed casually. Their years of bedroom accommodations to survive the banality of sex after marriage had eventually caused Delia to cave in to Tom?s fantasy of meeting a couple at a swinger club. These accommodations included a diverse team of named toys (Mr. Jack?s Bean Sprout, her favorite), a rather raunchy book of role-

19


playing scenarios (heteronormative and problematic, also), and their fucking weekly to pornography that Delia could now easily categorize into genres (Lesbian, Threesome, MFM, and Groupsex). She now speculated that if these acts weren?t steps calculated by her husband to achieve sleeping with strangers, real ones, that the end goal was to become swingers, not simply the tourists that time had disfigured them into. Not that they had to go through with anything, he?d assured her. They?d just see what real swingers were like and be titillated by the idea itself, as he was? or had been. And so here they stood. Delia hadn?t wished to encourage her husband further. She?d only hoped at last to pacify him. Neither did she think Tom was a bad person for his desires, only somewhat detached emotionally and self-absorbed despite his humanitarian politics (Tom was a vegetarian, which made going out to eat anywhere nice terribly complicated, even on her birthday). So, not once all that evening, watching her husband use tequila shots and big words to seduce a woman with the mind and alcohol tolerance of a teenager, did Delia pity him.

They?d already decided to swap prior to the drunken somersault, so Tom couldn?t be absolutely certain what Delia meant in asking if he wanted ?to go through with this.? He detected some pity in the lilt of the question, probably because her own bedmate, Reynold, was such a catch. A painter and ?baking enthusiast,? he?d strung a monologue on the inevitable revival of pineapple upside-down cake into a heady debate on the moral apathy of artists or, as he called them, ?artsy-fartsy types.? Meanwhile, the guy?s wife? Tom could not seem to stick a name to her foundation caked face? alternated between juvenile outbursts in which her hands shot above her head and opened wide like exploding fireworks, and drunkenly nodding off into her frozen margarita, which didn?t matter so much to Tom, except for fear that she might actually fall asleep and render a swap null. Tom had waited so long to get what he wanted? a cure to his adult life?s tremendous lifelessness, in the form of another woman, in a fashion that he could live with? that he was absolutely fixed on his mantra, ?Make love, not war.? All else was babble. He had invited Reynold and his wife to the table to flirt and fuck, God willing, not to solve the world?s problems, not tonight. Prepared to bed the bobble-headed blonde by whatever means necessary, he smiled and ordered her a second margarita and tequila shots for the table, spurring a meeting of eyes between them that ignited his sacral chakra. The object through which he might realize his fantasy wavered in a drunken haze, just within reach. All the while, Delia? a poet? debated Reynold on the moral apathy of artists until she slapped her open palm on the tabletop, overturning her husband?s cocktail. Soon after, she began to suspect that maybe Reynold didn?t believe that artists were any better or worse than any other slice of the human population, and that he was playing devil?s advocate to provoke and arouse her. ?Intellectual foreplay? was the term she would coin months later, as she and Tom hardly spoke the morning after except for a few general questions, such as whether they?d had fun or whether webs of existential guilt clung to their souls, both perfunctorily answering ?yes? and ?no? appropriately. Not until Tom proposed a new solution, divorce, while they had been watching some pop-trash vampire film on TV, did the couple finally confess the fears and failings of that night. He wept and asked for forgive-

20


ness, and she found herself strangely relieved to confess that Reynold?s intellectual rigor had turned her on to being sought after by another man?s deft hands in an hour or two if the conversation kept flowing.

Not that Tom hadn?t noticed, watching Delia cover her teeth when she laughed or lean in to touch Reynold?s elbow when making a decisive point, gestures he had not witnessed since his and Delia?s courtship a decade ago. Tom recalled countless, less-tender conversations with his wife on the subject of playing with others, during which he had described himself as ?simply not a jealous person.? He deflected his soreness over how well Delia and Reynold got along by barraging Reynold?s wife with drinks while Tom and the increasingly inebriated woman laughed at nothing? her saliva-jetting Daffy Duck impression, which caused Delia to squeeze Tom?s thigh. Margarita leaked from the corners of the woman?s mouth when he asked which presidential candidate she would vote for in the coming election. Zero chemistry existed between them, and Tom much preferred brunettes to blondes, but the woman had been born with the kind of legs he?d silently yearned for on more than one night of making love to Delia? slim from ankle to hip and plump in the calves like a marathon runner? though he would never admit that to his wife. A sexy pair of legs? it was enough, Tom told himself. And while the tone of Delia and Reynold?s conversation softened with intimacy, Tom and the woman?s nonsense mounted into shrieking? a manic laughter that made him half-expect and half-fear the woman?s head would turn blue. She asked for another round, then another. Desperate to keep her loose, Tom repeated, ?Anything.?

Before Delia realized where her conversation with Reynold was taking her, she had been converted to ?the lifestyle,? at least for one night, and the moment of having sex with someone who was clearly not her husband closed in. For a few hours then, life became poetry. Instead of feeling as if a missile were approaching the hull of her vessel, which had been sailing perfectly well on its own, the thought of colliding with this man she liked, of having him inside her for a few brief hours, made her heart lighten as if with helium, so that it no longer beat but bobbed like a balloon, fluttering against the tender backs of her ribs, its string tethered to his wrist because it did want to be drawn home by him and to enjoy the feeling of being drawn home by him until her heart hit the ceiling, then grew less buoyant, so that when its string curled like a tail on the carpet of the man and his wife?s bedroom. Delia lay at a safe distance, eyeing it lazily, calm now under the bed sheets, listening to this very nice man talk about the broken wrist he earned in a fistfight over a girlfriend when he was sixteen and how much he had changed in twenty years. Mostly, though, Delia listened to snow fleck against the windowpane, wishing she possessed the independence of a cat, and then she stretched like one out from under his bed sheets. Reynold rubbed her belly, tenderly kissed her breasts again, and she slinked out of his pale hands in search of food. He served coffee with warmed pineapple upside-down cake, and they planned a double date to see some pop-trash vampire film, about which they already shared an inside joke. Then she slipped out of the condo?s front door, softly pawing down the steps into the tepid darkness, where she again became a woman, crunching across the crisp ice of a lover?s parking lot at five o?clock in the morning, feeling somewhat silly, yet nevertheless as if she might never

22


die but instead return to youth again and again, only with hands more withered each time. Her walk to the curb took a brief nineteen seconds, by the end of which she had decided, no, she would not see Reynold again because eventually he would fall in love with her. Delia was proud of the maturity of her decision. She was a woman, after all, and no longer a young one. Though new to such games of the heart, she was the kind of person who would never have engaged in swinging if not for Tom badgering her to sever the bond between her love and desire, for which? Delia realized as she raised one bare hand into the bracing winter wind to hail a cab even though there were yet none in sight? she was grateful to Tom. The whole thing, the flirting and the fun, had been so easy, weightless, exactly as he?d described. She felt that her understanding of sex?s place in a loving relationship had grown. Delia missed her husband awfully at that moment and ached to share with him every detail of her night, especially the spot on her conscience that she hadn?t shared with Reynold, the spot she hadn?t allowed herself to fully acknowledge and would not fully acknowledge even that morning: that by following desire, she might have forever tipped another couple?s marriage out of balance. Perhaps she was only being egotistical. Perhaps Reynold wasn?t thinking of Delia as he sipped coffee alone at the kitchen table, still ruminating over his lost youth yet satisfied where life had led him and the wife it had led him to, the goofy woman on whom he waited to roll in with the sun. It was really only that one comment, about the freckle on Delia?s breast being the most perfect thing he had ever seen and that he would paint it in cobalt and pale pink and gold if he could be sure his wife would not become too jealous, that had pricked Delia to spring from Reynold?s bed. Now a thing existed between him and his wife that could never be shared? the aesthetic perfection of a freckle borne three inches beneath the nipple of the left breast of a woman named Delia? and it was Delia who had engendered that gap, which she could now do nothing about, except hope she was wrong or that Reynold and his wife were secure enough to talk through and so render infatuations insignificant. However, Delia hadn?t any confidence that the man and his wife were such a couple, and, considering that she had resolved never to see them again, she couldn?t help but feel responsible for some potential, indeterminate pain. Yet, her eyes brightened when the headlights of a cab lit the street, comforted by the fact that she and her husband could discuss these sorts of matters. To prove it, she promised that she would ask Tom, as soon as she got home, if Reynold?s wife had attributes, physical or otherwise, that he?d cherished. Delia wanted to know? or more, she did not want to not know, because it was obvious to her that?s what healthy relationships are nourished with, a type of communion, what she could have defined then as ?knowing through sharing,? despite how difficult that task was. In some way it would be immoral not to ask and to know, and artists? forget artists? she and Tom were good people destined for a long life of trials, yes, but also the rare joy that came from such work: love. Delia?s faith in knowing that she would have such a fine time with Reynold and yet return perfectly content to her own husband was what?d made swinging possible and made it equally impossible for her to stop smiling throughout her conversation with the man on the moral apathy of artists, with which she?d countered, ?Artists are the most moral people on the planet.? Faith had propelled Delia to arrive at the decision, ?Yes,

23


let?s,? after Reynold had asked, ?Shall we?? prompting her to nod to Tom with steady eye contact, meaning that she was earnestly prepared for a swap with the man and his wife. And so the four adults exchanged rules? kissing on the mouth was permissible; no glove, no love; full swap at separate locations (Reynold?s request), all of which was fine, just fine. Not until she and Reynold had finished buttoning their jackets in front of the coat check and he?d nuzzled her ear with his well-trimmed goatee did he confess, ?We?re all terrible people; letting my wife go fuck your husband? and without a jacket, no less.? Delia laughed and replied, ?Oh, yes, we?re all going to hell.? She then spotted Tom across the club?s lobby, watching the woman stumble into the restroom. Tom wore an expression that might have been labeled apprehensive by those who didn?t know him, but Delia saw that he?d only entered his cerebral-guru phase of intoxication, which would serve him well, Delia thought, and then she turned and kissed Reynold fully on the mouth. That kiss, their first, shocked her, that she had tasted and taken pleasure in another man?s mouth so simply, as well as folded a promise into the kiss that said, ?I will return because I want you this much.? Delia hadn?t realized how badly she?d wanted Reynold until she noticed her own partner withdrawing, jeopardizing the surety that had buoyed her heart, a breach that the act of kissing Reynold weakly guarded against. She?d then crossed the lobby and taken Tom aside to whisper, ?Are you certain you still want to do this?? After an introspective sigh, he said, ?Yes, I want to if you want to,? which led to a series of vague responses because neither wanted to sound too eager about sleeping with someone else. Then Tom, in his typically brash manner, made a chopping motion with his hand and said, ?We?re better than this. I want to sleep with this woman, and she wants to sleep with me. And you want to sleep with that man, yes? And he wants to sleep with you, yes?? Delia answered, ?Yes.? ?And I don?t feel bad about it one bit.? ?Me neither.? ?That makes me happy,? Tom said. Delia agreed, ?Me too.? Smiling, they sealed their resolution with a kiss of their own, one that was familiar, comforting, as it assured once again that, no matter what happened, some things would never change.

Tom recognized Delia?s lightness, the way she drifted over to the man, took to his arm, and mouthed, ?I love you,? to Tom before she and her paramour floated out of the club?s doors, prompting Tom to resume his pacing and speculation of whether or not he would sleep with the dingbat. Admitting doubt to his wife would

24


only have jeopardized the night, and Tom knew that he might never have another shot to sleep with such a young and well-constructed thing. Of course, that didn?t make Reynold?s wife any less wasted, for which he felt partially to blame, nor did it change the fact that he couldn?t remember the woman?s name, despite scolding himself twice not to forget it. Having a name with which to tag her face didn?t hold much significance to Tom. However, not knowing contributed to his acute sense of disorientation, adding further to his uncertainty of what he really wanted? did he have to pretend to be in love with a woman simply to sleep with her, even among swingers?? ultimately rendering him incapable of answering why any person wanted anything at all when it always led to grief. Reynold?s wife then emerged from the restroom, twirling with her skirt spinning. By that time, Tom was not only drunk but well-rooted in his cerebral-guru mindset known to visit him when heavily drinking and thinking concurrently, and not until the woman whirled into a knot of couples nearly his parents?age, bowling them over, did Tom realize that she had expected him to catch her in his arms. He then had to apologize to the couples, so that the back of his neck was hot with embarrassment when at last he and Reynold?s wife broke into the eight-degree winter night and she was without a jacket and he had on a trench-length wool coat. The frigid air cleared Tom?s head in a single breath. The electric whiteness of the city?s streets centered him. He could make having sex with the woman tolerable, Tom coaxed himself. He might even enjoy it if he only put in a little effort. Tom faked a smile down Halstead, as if he were having as good of a time as the woman seemed to be having, until they stood together along the curbside. He raised his hand high to hail a taxi even though there were yet none in sight, so that she would believe in his eagerness. But the fact that he had to try to enjoy her legs, which had aroused him so strongly only an hour before and which now were red and goose pimple-ridden, troubled him. The woman?s laughter quavered pathetically when she tried to explain, ?My husband usually catches me,? troubling him further. Tom continued to play along, as if he were nothing but a fool to have faltered in his attention, and made the flat comment, ?I bet he does.? But Tom knew that the guy most likely saw exactly what he saw, a dingbat, which explained why Reynold enjoyed taking home other wives? what kind of husband lets his wife leave the house without a jacket in the dead of winter? Tom began to feel sick, standing with this nameless woman he didn?t much like, whose own husband didn?t either, and whom Delia had only liked so far as Tom was satisfied. Now Tom wished he had told Delia the truth: that he?d been having second thoughts, and he hoped one day he?d have the courage to confess his failings, though he doubted that day would come as quickly as the morning. It was difficult to admit to lies and he had done nothing less than lie to his wife to get here. How they?d gone from boredom to picking up strange people in a strange place, Tom could not completely piece together, feeling both resigned and disquieted at that moment. He found no consolation in the fact that the dingbat had it worse, much worse, as her husband would get a good fucking out of another woman, Delia would likely revel sublimely in that fucking, and, if he managed to perk up to perform okay and get something out of the deal for himself, the woman would get nothing more than a mediocre lay and a bad hangover, and neither Tom nor Delia nor this woman?s husband gave a damn, because? Tom was reluctant to admit? not one of them cared about her at all.

25


The thought made Tom feel so wretched that he opened his jacket and brought the woman inside before he knew what he was doing. Both her arms slid fast around his back, and she trembled like a wet dog against his chest. A cab rolled up then, honking for them to hurry inside against the cold, but Tom didn?t budge. Instead, he held the woman tighter. However the woman interpreted the gesture, she too clutched him tighter. Tom told himself to catch the cab before his chance had passed, but he was unable to let her go or to stop from staring down at her ears, which burned bright red, clueless as to what she was thinking inside that gorgeous head of hers. Then he decided that, no, what the woman would or wouldn?t get tonight was not the worst of this crazy business? it was that, no matter what she was thinking, some part of him still didn?t care to know.

26


W renched Karina Chang

27


Hel-Cat Sarina Bosco I thought of the ocean, and how sick it made me feel from the inside out as though the mist was rising up from beneath my skin. Still I cast the line out under my thumb tried to ignore the clouds racing across the boundless sky at dusk. Hours pacing on blood and salt water my lips still and peeling. And then under the flood lights a heartbeat and feathers. I pulled the gull up against the side of the boat and wrenched the hook out of its flesh, almost drowning in the thick night air and almost crying everyone?s knees and thighs surrounding me and the shame of being a woman there among the guts and scales. Knowing that the curse would lap at me forever, returning like the tides to expose me for what I was. I stumbled back onto land reeking of original sin.

In August it rained for so long that the earth began to smell like freshly gutted fish. Out in the yard and the moonlight I remembered seeing the squid dance up to the surface, oddly aggressive and beautiful. A man?s hands ripping into their bodies and the ink spilling out across the scarred surface of the table. Occasionally the earth moves under me unexpectedly and I quietly accept the reminder.

28


All Things Left Unsaid SaraEve Fermin After M, M, & J I'm sorry that I came first, that I wasn?t born earlier. I?m sorry that I was beat the hardest of us all, so I learned how to survive, that I needed it all for myself, I?m sorry your elephant tears always collected the holiest in her hands. I?m sorry we don?t remember the same history. I?m sorry you are in all the poems, but not? that you are always a bottle, or an empty chair, or a phone call, always disappointment. I?m sorry for giving your stories away. I?m sorry that when you cried in the auditorium I was disgusted, sorry I killed you in my dreams- twice. I?m sorry our mother saw Depression only in you, sorry that my sadness is only a mood. I?m sorry I couldn?t run fast enough from you, and then wanted only to be a part of your life. I?m sorry your boyfriends loved me, that you kept them from me. I?m sorry for all the doors I opened for you? the jobs, the conversations, I?m sorry that you are now best friends with my maid of honor, and that we don?t talk anymore. I am sorry I never stopped you from hurting our sister, sorry I never took the knives away, sorry I let you play with matches. I?m sorry that I know there is honesty and a tiny core you keep to yourself, sorry that your broken hurts and I do not know how to fix it. I am sorry that I am always trying to climb inside you with my words, sorry that you always think that they are about you. Sorry I have seen you smile, have seen you without your beard and middle fingers. Sorry I dyed your hair, pierced your ears. I am sorry I took the pills they gave me, learned how to be quiet, I?m sorry I hid my scars. The truth is, I was always afraid, felt you slipping from me, even as I tried to shake you off like a piece of gum on a hot boardwalk. It?s because of the way our mother taught us to walk to school? hands clasped, palm in palm. Every crossroad stretches out before me like a highway and my hand, it opens and closes on its own, looking for a ghost.

29


Untitled Carmel Jenkin

30


Everything is Sky in Kansas LeighAnna Schesser The bedrock here is fossilized air? limestone, the chemist smiles, carbon dioxide dissolved, transformed a million years in water, become calcium carbonate. It fits. Where we stand was ocean, once, and water is just heavy sky. Science is a poet in her bones, grandeur-giddy and symmetry-sly. After the ocean, ice. Glacier pebbles the size of small cars still speckle hilly fields; fat hips graceful in wildflower skirts, laboring tractors give them wide berth. I stood, once, on such a rock, leaned into the south wind; round red, horizon-heavy sun hot on my cheeks; dress billowed out around my knees; and all my bones were light as larks', my feet, roots, right through and down to the hardened atmosphere beneath. And I thought, this must be what it is to be Earth, light-spun and breathless through all the space there is, fingers loosely twined with gravity's.

31


Teen Angst ...Or I s I t ? An I nt erview wit h L ucy Wainger Lucy Wainger's poems have appeared/will appear in The James Franco Review, The Blueshift Journal, Black & BLUE, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She is a senior at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. Interview conducted by Keri Karandrakis. K er i K ar andr akis: Can you share with us a little bit about your illnesses? Lucy Wainger: I've been diagnosed with major depression, chronic depression (dysthymia), social social anxiety disorder, and emerging borderline personality disorder. When I was fifteen, I tried to kill myself twice and spent five months in various mental hospitals. The last of the hospitals was a clinic in Texas that had a really intensive diagnostic process; I spent three weeks answering multiple choice questions, interpreting ink blots, etc. At the end of it, those were the diagnoses I received. I'd previously only been diagnosed with depression and that felt incomplete to me? it was really nice to get confirmation that there were, in fact, other illnesses affecting me. It sounds weird, but I really like my diagnosis? it gave me names for thoughts and feelings that, previously, were ineffable to me. K K : Wr iter s with mental illness are often por tr ayed as having star ted wr iting to ease the pain of the mental illness. Was it that way for you? LW: I started writing around the time I first got depressed, which was in sixth grade? eleven or twelve years old. I wrote some profoundly terrible flash fiction before moving onto prose poems and, eventually, poems. Writing was kind of like talking for me. I didn't speak much; I didn't like my voice. When I did speak, it felt fake. My writing was the only time/place I said anything genuine, anything that I cared about. I was really alone, and I think writing helped me in that it gave me the illusion of an audience. When I was thirteen, I made a Tumblr blog, and it quickly became my main outlet. I would write a poem or a prose piece not because I had anything to say but because I wanted to make a post, a little shout into cyberspace; seeing the notification "so-and-so liked your post" was confirmation that my little shout had been heard, and was a hell of a motivator. That's probably why I stuck with writing instead of giving it up like so many other hobbies? I was practicing every day. Stitching words together. Seeing how they worked. More than anything, writing has improved the way I articulate my thoughts, ideas, feelings and therefore my ability to connect to other people. It's kind of like doing a math problem in your head versus with a pen and paper. Not only does the pen and paper make the process far easier, it's also the best and clearest way to

32


communicate your thoughts to others. In that way, writing has helped me feel less lonely. Also, since my treatment consists mostly of talk therapy, the ability to accurately describe what's happening within me is invaluable. I'm hesitant to make any kind of blanket statements, but I can't think of a way that writing has hurt me. At least, not yet. There is always a certain amount of pain? my stock answer for when people ask why I write is that it hurts more not to. But that's exactly it. K K : There?s a good bit of wr iting about mental illness, and unfor tunately, in this, you see stereotypes. What are some of the ones you?ve seen? LW: The trouble is that mental illness is not conducive to writing (as some people seem to believe)? as subject matter, as an obstacle in the author's life, whatever. Generally speaking, it decreases your motivation, your articulacy, your ability to find things interesting; it makes for boring subject matter. Pain and sadness and discomfort, sure, but not the illness. Before I was in treatment, I literally couldn't find a single book or poem or anything that was even slightly relevant to my life. I don't know about stereotypes, but what I see is a lot of writing aimed toward mentally healthy people. K K : How, in your opinion, can wr iter s better address people who are mentally unwell without alienating them, or reducing them to tropes? What are they cur rently doing wrong, and what do you think they can do to wor k towar ds fixing that? LW: Honestly, it feels like a catch-22. I would say, "Publish more writing by mentally ill people!"? but when you're severely mentally ill, writing is nigh impossible. I mean when you're in the throes of it, the muck of it, the ugly. The stuff that never gets described. When I was psychotic, I didn't have the capacity to write a poem fit to be read or published. And now that I'm heavily medicated and healthy enough to write an okay poem, I couldn't tell you what it's like to be psychotic. I remember the facts of it, sure. But I couldn't tell you about the muck of it. That said, certain aspects of mental illness are pretty well represented in books. I'm thinking of young adult novels like It's Kind of a Funny Story, which I felt did a good job of not cringing away from the unpleasant aspects of the characters' mental illness. I think that's the best way to improve writing on mental illness, in general. Not to cringe. Not to sacrifice accuracy/legitimacy in the name of "relatability." In terms of how we talk about books, it's important to be explicit about mental illness, even if it's not explicit within the text. This is important especially with teenage characters, I think. I'm thinking of an essay by Louis Menand that discusses Catcher in the Rye? how everyone has an opinion about Holden Caulfield, is he a troubled teen or is he just an asshole, without recognizing the fact that (I'm paraphrasing very loosely) Catcher is not a novel about adolescence in the 50s, it's about trauma in the 40s. Holden is not and should not be emblematic of the average teenager; he's riddled with PTSD. Similarly, Harry Potter gets so much shit for being "whiny," lashing out, etc. in Order of the Phoenix, which neglects the slew of traumas he has just experienced and is still experiencing. These are just a few examples of the really fucked up way teenage characters with mental illness are treated in popular discussion. Hormones and angst are conflated with actual medical issues, which sets a horrible example for teens' perceptions of their own thoughts and feelings.

33


K K : M ental illness often fir st shows up dur ing a per son's teenage year s. Yet, as you said, it's often times chalked up to hor mones and teen angst, which makes it har der for teens to get treatment, or even realize that something is wrong. What's your message to teens who are wonder ing if their feelings of sadness and self-hatred go beyond the typical teenage angst spectr um, and what would you say to the parents that don't believe them? LW: Teens, take your feelings seriously. Recognize that even though they might not be accurate to reality, they're still real. For instance, it might not be logical to hate yourself because of a bad grade on a test? but since when were emotions were dictated by logic? You can't just say, "I guess I'm overreacting, it's not really a big deal," and make it all go away. It's still there. It's still real. Take your feelings seriously. TAKE YOUR FEELINGS SERIOUSLY. If you feel like you're going through hell, it's probably because you're going through hell. Parents: Similarly, if your kid tells you they're going through hell, you can't just say "No, you're not! It's just teenage hormones," and expect them to be like, "Wow, Dad/Mom, you're right! I feel so much better now; all my problems evaporated." Don't be an idiot. Realize that however distorted you might think your child's self-perception is, yours is probably just as distorted; you are, in fact, their parent. There's a lot they haven't told you. Be grateful that they're finally telling you. K K : What's your hope for the next gener ation of people with mental illness? Where do you see the conver sation on mental illness in 15, 20 year s? LW: My hope would be for the conversation to grow more inclusive. That's the hope. I don't know how realistic it is. Mental healthcare keeps me alive and well but that's because I'm privileged enough to have access to effective treatment. I don't want to be a pessimist about this, because it's something I care about -- I'd love to rattle off three snappy ways we can move forward, to make that privilege into a right. But I honestly have no fucking clue. Mental healthcare is an industry and as long as it's operating within the capitalist paradigm, I don't see how it could possibly become accessible to everyone; that's not profitable. But what do I know? I'm seventeen and crazy. I'm just trying to write poems and not fuck up.

34


Gef端hle in Deutsch Klasse (Feelings in German Class) Sandra Faulkner 1. Die Trauer (Sadness) I have two weeks left und schon I miss Mannheim, my life, and get all like weepy American as I scratch plus and minus signs on notebook lines next to feelings when mein Lehrer asks, negativ oder positiv? I pen the Gestalt wrong, all scribbles up and down, and slash out the sad signs my German is not prima or tollor any other of my Lehrer?s praise- but bad. At least I?m getting the gloom out of my way rubbing the feelings of nostalgia over my notes in an efficient display, better than being a middle-aged mute und traurig like the first Deutsch als Fremdsprache class all in German -no comparing to English = I?ll miss Sebastian who+ never gives in, explains German with more German.

2. Die Angst (Fear)

I never give in, explain German with more German: This place is like a Wintertraum mit Grimm magic, not like boring Ohio where we only do mom-like chores and homework, and the dog gets ticks. I try to be a real Mannheimer, like when mein Kind weint und klagt that ?I miss my dog? and ?you love Germany more than me,? I speak a few words of Tratsch arrive 10 minutes early to meet my new German friend because I can?t learn how to speak un-American and treat the locals to an echter Akzent as I burn through a walk in the city?s alphabet street grid

35


to become more German than the Germans.

3. Der Stolz (Pride)

I become more German than the Germans and don?t feel Stolz in all of the American places, not about my Verständnis in class, mein Kind or Mann who like that I can order their food in these spaces with Kellnerin draped in Dirndls und Lederhosen, Germans who are not proud of their nation or their selves but show pride in gut gemacht clothes that are more German than Germany. I get this feeling, share this fetish for all things Deutsch and Palatine, take my runs along the Rhein, go places no Mannheimer knows like Bacharach where we tourists creep along the winery vines like a tourist blight of red, white and blue as we dare to drink in all of these views.

4. Der Ärger (Annoyance) I dare to drink in all of these viewswindows with wispy women mannequins, Dekolleté molded into Oktoberfest Dirndls, hung over Lederhosen punked-out Männer, displays more authentic than the Mannheimers who sport suspenders and check-print shirts around town, a glass of trockene Riesling in one hand, a cigarette and a kid in the other, the dirty smoke refracted onto the facades of shop fronts and in my face as I stand and frown from the outside, choke on the effluvium of cost and fashion mutter that this is not Bavaria, outside in English, my body warped in a hoodie, hair frayed, jeans, disordered and strange.

36


5. Die (Un)Ordnung ((Dis)Order)

Disordered and strange, hair, jeans frayed, I cannot bring mein Kind in order as we drag along the Mannheimer StraĂ&#x;eIst alles in Ordnung? Alles klar?she darts like an expert frogger onto the street and knocks a bicyclist off his pedestal into the corner as we snake our way to Kindergarten. Pass Auf! He yells (and not Ouf Pass! like a real Mannheimer). Watch out! I yell and pull her back to the sidewalk as the bicyclist turns and snips: Schlaf gut Kind! All of these Germans tell us how to keep order like the woman on the train platform who demands, Do you speak German? Because that man is taking video of your daughter. Her last words, as she points to a suited man with video-phone in hand, and turns awayAnd I thought you should knowmean I must clamp the fun, bringe alle in Ordnung with mein Kind who moves time during Bahnstreiks by tanzen like a kleine pied piper of chaos knocking strangers off board the train of forgotten rules.

37


Keep Me Warm Paige Baralija

38


Fuzhounese; ?Child? Jennifer Lee Fridays are playground days, and my favorite days are the playground days because those are the days Ma and Pa let me ride on the swings long into the evening before going home. Except, today is special. Not just like any Friday. We?re going to the playground again, but this time it isn?t just us: our extended family will all be there, at the park, and the kids will all be sent to the playground to play. ~ They said on the playground today that I speak different. Not that I speak English different; we are all American-Born here, but that I speak Chinese different. Not Mandarin. Fuzhou, or this horrible choking, too slurred/loud/angry. So I shut my mouth and listen. Mandarin is crisper. More refined. And I thought, if unrefined or inelegant is what I?m being teased for, then I could remind them. My family lives in a single-family house, just like Di Wu?s family. I told them that in my classroom-slick English, pointed out to my cousins that they live right by the Flushing subway station and that their Chinese is whatever more cultured they want to call it but I?m not the one living in Chinatown/grubby fingers/takeout boxes/everything you wouldn?t ever want to be. What does dialect even matter if it?s a language your tongue is better off without? You think Americans can tell the difference between Mandarin and Fuzhou? Both sound like primitive, alien noise. ~ Di Wu told us about a time this white girl asked him how to speak Chinese. He says he told her that, actually, Chinese people don?t communicate through words. They peel their lips apart and spit meaningless, alien sounds to distract people as they secretly communicate telepathically. He said it was a race-secret. That he wasn?t supposed to tell her. That he was telling her real special because she was a real special girl. And when Di Wu told us this, we all burst out laughing, and Mandarin-speaking Hector snorted the loudest. Mandarin-speaking Hector couldn?t hope to ever go out with a white girl. Not in Chinatown like that. Only Di Wu could pull off a stunt like that, as respectable as he is, all three-and-a-half feet of sincerity and lies. ~ Afterwards, I ask my parents to speak Mandarin in the house. So I can learn Mandarin. I do not need Fuzhounese. It may be the language of my parents and their parents but who needs that when any bystander wouldn?t be able to tell the difference; when they could readily believe Mandarin is the language of my parents

39


the same way they would not believe that English is my very first language? I could tell them, ?Mandarin is my first language,? and they would believe me. The same way that white girl believed Di Wu when he said that the Chinese can communicate telepathically. If that really were the case, the Chinese would?ve outsmarted white people out of all their money years and years and years ago; but also, we are so alien to her she could believe something so ridiculous of us. ~ I speak Mandarin at the playground now, too. Di Wu and Hector and Marc and everyone all speak Mandarin. And the adults enjoy meeting, so they say we should do this more regularly. They speak Fuzhou; we hear them laughing, loudly, and I don?t know if it?s because it?s a tradition or because they are respecting their elders or because they want to scare away white families from the park by being loud and raucous so strangers leave without asking. Keep away from these barbarians. Make them not want what they could take if they wanted. Make them not want to take what we want. Make it ours. ~ Of course there?s a second-cousin George who just moved in from California and thinks we should switch to Fuzhou. He said it?s more traditional, but also more expressive. ?Not slurred sloppily,? he said. ?Slurred musically.? As if a Californian would understand this intricate system of language-giving and language-taking that we have set up for ourselves. Even the adults around here don?t know about it. ?This mother-tongue,? he said, ?clings to the particles of dust in the air as you speak. It hangs there, vibrant, almost tangible. It?s so much more alive than Mandarin.? He said so much for Fuzhou in a way that I had never thought about before. It made me feel like a child, for once, for never having thought of these things; really, really, child-like, even though he was the same age as me. And as I was thinking that, I realized that I no longer remembered the Fuzhounese word for child, just the vague impression of an ?n? or an ?i? or what sounded like the endings of other Fuzhounese words for ?yolk? or ?crabs.? The feeling of something soft rubbing its way around my mouth. Maybe that was a word mother used to call me in Fuzhounese. ~ George refuses to speak Mandarin. He is his own Fuzhounese coalition. He looked pityingly at us, said, ?Do none of you know Fuzhounese?? And I think something in my face must have betrayed me because he narrowed his eyes at me, waiting for a response. It reminded me of the story Di Wu told the white girl about how Chinese people communicate telepathically, because it was as if some tacit understanding passed between us then when he realized that I was not him and he was not me and Fuzhounese was not a burden I wanted to carry. Now though, thinking about that, and thinking about how I can no longer say child in Fuzhounese, I think maybe I want to cry. And now on Family Playground Nights, we ignore George and George ignores us unless one of us has something to say to the other in which case George speaks in Fuzhounese and we respond in Mandarin. It all

40


translates out in our heads, and I think we imagine that the other is speaking in our respective languages, and we are not even really trying to understand each other because what even is the point there? Why are we fighting each other like this / does the language even matter / why shouldn?t we ditch the Chinese altogether and speak English? There?s only so long our parents could make us speak Chinese. They cannot seal our lips shut and we can continue to speak. Fuzhou is the language of our grandparents and some of our parents and all the people who came before but maybe Mandarin is meant to be the language of the children but maybe it doesn?t matter but maybe I think it?s important that I speak deliberately. And for me, that deliberately means speaking in Mandarin. But sometimes, when I speak, my Mandarin slips into the Fuzhou dialect, which confuses me because there are Fuzhou words I am already forgetting but also something fundamental about the language that I cannot forget. And when I speak to George, sometimes, I don?t notice as my Mandarin slips up and he corrects my own Mandarin and there?s something so stupid and futile about that, that he knows this Mandarin better than I do. ~ I want to ask him how to say the word ?child.? But also, I don?t want to ask because that would be acknowledging that this language holds some sort of meaning to me when really, it doesn?t/shouldn?t/has no reason to because Mandarin is Modern and George is just stubborn and Mother calls me in Mandarin because these words in these languages mean nothing different from each other. ~ Child / ? / gi?ng

41


Contributors Paige Bar alij a is a 25 year old portrait and fashion photographer based in Graz, Austria. Her photography ranges from colourful fashion shots to creative portraits. Her style is said to be floral, emotive and candid. Part of her portfolio consists of expressive self-portraits which she tends to take in different cities, everywhere around the world. Paige is born Kosovarian but has spent most of her life in Austria as well as in Los Angeles, California. Besides photography, Paige enjoys her studies in English literature and linguistics. She loves to travel with her partner, explore new places and meet people from all over the world. Her work has been featured in The Portfolio, Whim Online Magazine, Vogue Italia and diverse local magazines. She is currently working on the project she started in Los Angeles called ?Strangers?. You can find her work on: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paigebaralijaphotography Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124931390@N04/ Instagram: https://instagram.com/paigebaralija/ Webiste: www.paigebaralija.com Sar ina Bosco is a chronic New Englander and reluctant homeowner. When not writing, she can most likely be found washing dishes or gardening. K ar ina Chang is an aspiring photographer and writer who dreams in between the morning coffees and the midnight ice cream breaks. Her work often involves self portraiture, ranging from black and white photography to digital art collages. Her photography and writing have been seen in The Blueshift Journal, [empath]QUARTERLY and multiple editions of Silver Quill, a literary arts magazine from her school. Currently, she attends Montgomery Blair High School as a junior, and juggles her passion for art and writing with the pressures of school work. She is an avid fan of slam poetry, punk rock, and rainy days, residing in Potomac, Maryland. M ichelle Chen is a high school poet, writer, and artist who lives for paper mail, warm zephyrs, and fried noodles, and who takes inspiration for her poetry from the events that occur in and around her home, New York City. She is the first-prize winner of the 2015 Knopf Poetry prize and is the recipient of The Critical Junior Poet's Award. Her work has been honored both regionally and nationally in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and is forthcoming in the Sharkpack Poetry Review, Corium, Ember, and Night Train. Sandr a L . Faulkner is Director of Women?s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at BGSU. Her poetry appears in places such as Gravel, Literary Mama, TAB, and damselfly. She authored two chapbooks, Hello Kitty Goes to College (dancing girl press, 2012), and Knit Four, Make One (Kattywompus, 2015). Her memoir in poetry, Knit Four, Frog One, was published by Sense Publishers (2014). She lives in NW Ohio with her partner, their warrior girl, and a rescue mutt. Sar aEve Fer min is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. A 2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor, she is the Editor in Chief of Wicked Banshee Press and Content Editor for WordsDance Publishing. Her work can be found in GERM Magazine, WordsDance, Drunk in a Midnight Choir and her poetry anthology, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. Ter ĂŠ Fowler-Chapman is a writer, teaching artist, actor, and lecturer who has been attracting audiences since 2012. Her breadth of performances include: TEDxStarrPassWomen, Black Life Matters Conference, Poets for Ferguson, Voices de La Calle, the award-winning play Octagon, and featuring alongside jazz genius Clark Coolidge. Her work has been archived in VOCA, and current publications are: Feminist Wire, Literary Orphans, and the photography book A Beautiful Body.

42


She is the brainchild of TucsonLit, Words on the Avenue, and the first African-American Executive Director for the Tucson Poetry Festival. Her spoken word album, titled Womyn Child, debuted in Fall 2014. Teré currently lives in Tucson where she is a high school poetry teacher. When she isn?t gracing the stage, planning her next big project, or engaging classrooms she is spending time with her loving partner and two dogs.

K ather ine Fr ain is rumored to last have been seen in a yellow submarine. However, there's been no official confirmation of that. When she can be found, she's generally at Princeton University, studying poetry and managing The Blueshift Journal. Her work has also appeared in The Journal, Sugared Water, and more. Rosa Fur neaux is a student from rural Norfolk, England. Her love for photography came on so fast that she?s still catching up with it. Rosa?s work has been featured in blogs, online magazines, and exhibitions, most recently including the 2015 Open Generation Festival. Alongside her university studies she has worked in rural Tanzania on an extended assignment for the charity READ International, and as a staff photographer at the California Aggie in Davis, CA.

M or gan Gr iffiths is deeply indebted to the statues in Davis Square, but isn't sure how to act around them. Enr ique García Nar anj o is a writer and performer from South Tucson, Arizona. They published their first collection of poetry, Tortoise Boy Says, in 2014 through Spoken Futures Press. García's work is focused on the Chicana/o experience and history. For more information, check out their website: pochismo.weebly.com. Car mel Jenkin is an artist living in Melbourne, Australia. Her works are principally a series of female nudes. After completion of a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the Queensland University of Technology, she has since had six solo shows and contributed to numerous group exhibitions. With each show, she ventures into slightly new territory, while remaining loyal to the female form. She hopes you enjoyed her work. Daniel L evis K eltner teaches at Texas State University and is the managing editor at Newfound. He lives in Austin, Texas. Pr iyanka Padidam is an undergraduate at Tufts University. She mostly writes about her feelings, but recently has also been writing about other made-up peoples' feelings. Her favorite poet is Frank O'Hara.

L eighAnna Schesser graduated with her M.F.A. from North Carolina State University in 2013. That same spring she was a finalist in the North Carolina State Poetry Contest, judged by Michael Wiegers. Since then, she has started a family and moved to Kansas, where she lives with her husband, two children, innumerable books, and drinks a great deal of coffee. Par isa Thepmankor n is currently a junior at Morris Hills High School, located in Rockaway, New Jersey, USA. Other than receiving recognition in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and the Hippocrates Young Poets Prize, she has written poems that have been published or are forthcoming in The Apprentice Writer, Cicada Magazine, Cadaverine, and Canvas, among others. She currently serves on the staff of [empath] Quarterly and The Blueshift Journal. Susanne Wawr a is a German visual artist and poet based in Dublin, Ireland. Susanne holds a Masters in English and Communication & Media from the University of Leipzig, Germany. After an exploration of work life in an international big name company, she decided to swap a secure career for life as an artist. The human condition is a recurring theme in her work. Particularly, she investigates Mental Health and "Weltschmerz" through painting, collage and video.

43


Profile for Transcendence Magazine

Transcendence Magazine Issue 03: Identity  

Featuring work by Michelle Chen, Priyanka Padidam, Morgan Griffiths, and more! Cover art: "Reverie" by Jaimie Peta Sutton.

Transcendence Magazine Issue 03: Identity  

Featuring work by Michelle Chen, Priyanka Padidam, Morgan Griffiths, and more! Cover art: "Reverie" by Jaimie Peta Sutton.

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded