Editorial Committee Aisling Kearney Niall Larkin Colm Ó hUigínn Sarah Armstrong Sé Ó hEidhin Todd Pender
Cover Design Aisling Kearney
Layout and Design Aoife Cronin Aisling Kearney
Dear reader, What does writing look like when it gets up in the morning? I’ve always wondered. Well, only when it gets my attention. There’s a lot going on in my head. Usually thoughts, sometimes nothing. When there’s an award winning book in my hands, unlike Ireland’s public transport, the existential thought train arrives on time. Good writing hits me like a scolding mother armed with a wooden spoon. I start questioning my life choices. I start to ponder: at one point in time, this award winning book existed only as an idea, expressed feverishly in a dream journal or on a mottled napkin.Yet, the writing in front of me is intricate and polished. Each sentence is carefully choreographed, leading into the next. There is no evidence of writer’s block, no yawning gaps where darlings once lived, no ideas left unexplored and untied. It is perfection poured out into sentences, smooth as a barista style coffee. It flows.* So masterful, it seems it was written in one go. I’ve learned over time the trick to good writing is it belies even better editing. You’re not supposed to tell how many edits it’s gone through. That’s why it’s a trick. With that, I confess what a joy it was creating The Attic 2019. I’d like to thank the editing committee for showing up that one Saturday. Joke aside, we received an astounding amount of submissions and it was exceedingly difficult choosing what we felt were the most unique, expressive, and interesting. I’d also like to thank Aoife Cronin, for stitching all these pieces together into the lovely journal you hold in your hands. Thank you to all who submitted. From working on the past 3 years’ journals, I’d say this one was my favorite. More writing, even more editing. Yours sinfully, Aisling Kearney, Litsoc Chairperson 18/19 *Just like my tears.
The Attic March 2019 Contents 6
Escape - Todd Pender
Five Spoons - BrĂd Nolan
Checkpoint Song - Julie Leenane
Luxembourg - John Armstrong
The H in the Hollywood Sign - Maggie Larson
Bluelight - Aisling Kearney
5 Plays about Hams - Colm Higgins
Rejoice for Spring has come - Niall Larkin
Yellow Flowers - Ian Macartney
Haikus of Trinity - Sally Anne McCarthy
Ode to a Sidewalk - Claire Stalhuth
Trespassers will be Prosecuted - Todd Pender
Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in a name - Todd Pender
Salt Water Taffy - Martina Giambianco
Athena concealing Ithaca from Ulysses - Elliot Mills
Looking out my Window - Sarah Armstrong
Escape Todd Pender Please take a moment To take note of your nearest exit; Which may be behind you. In the event of an emergency Please make your way calmly, Through the exit, to the nearest meeting point. If you cannot find the exit, however, Do not waste time looking for it. Break the glass, punch a hole through the wall, Jump up through the ceiling, Burrow out through the floor. Do whatever it takes To get out. Out, out, out.
Five Spoons Bríd Nolan “The universe will take care of us.” Liz says. We are trapped in a tent, canvas trembling beneath the fury of the universe. The rain floods our groundsheet, turns solid ground to treacherous mud – no longer solid enough to bear a peg. A branch is ripped free from a nurturing trunk, tackles the taut canvas to my left. It misses my head by a little, how much is immaterial. I do not believe in near misses. There is simply what happened, and what did not. “Sometimes trees fall.” Kai replies. I can breathe in the scent of his unease, rising from his unwashed body. We are five in a three man tent. And I am not afraid. We did not use the tent so far on our journey, spent each night stretched out under a different, velvet sky. The ground exuded heat, summer crackled in the air. This summer of ‘76 has been the hottest in living memory. Only a yoga mat lay between my stomach and the forest floor. I never knew something flickered in the high pressure, an instability which formed convective clouds. I did not expect this storm. The tent is leaking. The storm began during dinner. We only brought one pot, five spoons. We eat vegan food simultaneously, grazing together from one scratched metal pan. There is something polite, something amusingly genteel in our scrabble. There is little to divide me from these travellers.Yet I have known half of them for mere days. I am a pack mule; the saucepan belongs in my backpack. I have carried it for 20km every day for a week, and tonight is the last night. “We may as well try to sleep.” I say. I am fatalistic, but also, I know what Kai does not, what Liz grasps instinctively.
Liz is a hitchhiker we joined outside of Dresden. Kai is a friend of a friend. Roza and Flo are old friends, long absent friends, present friends now. As we crowd into the tent, I love them all equally, but with varying degrees of ferocity. We lie side by side, bodies curled into one another, every chest concave to an answering back. In the dark, there is little to distinguish us. Our packs are disguised as rubbish bags, left outside to face the elements alone, without human comfort. Everything I own is outside this tent. Inside, I sleep with two dear friends, two strangers and a growing pool of water. It is a deep sleep. Afterwards, Liz will go to India, Flo to Morocco. Roza will return home. As I drift into the cloying embrace of serene dreams, I do not know that in nine hours I am going to borrow a phone. I will place my first call to Kaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother. When she prompts me, I will describe the trickles of water and condensation building on canvas. She will want to know everything, vicariously experience everything of that night, save for that which I do not have epistemological certainty to describe. As I slept that night, the heavens grew violent. In the moment that I passed the threshold of sleep, I was not afraid of fickle, fragile pain. I believed that suffering is ephemeral. The next morning we would not eat breakfast. Five spoons left unused, one rendered obsolete. As I slept, I, like Liz, believed in the inherent benevolence of the universe. That night would be the last night.
Checkpoint Song Julie Lenane I write back from Berlin at twenty And feel this city is a rasp in the night; Or maybe that is how my own voice sounds In this time, at this age. By these painted walls of empire I feel There is an East I have not touched. New soil, for me, but old And breathing through a threefold face, Of watching stones, Of firestorms, Of sanded ghosts These sides of a coin, That wait at the brittle edge; Discordant the sound of my opening gambit, The hiss, the lagging of my feet over the ground. I write back to Berlin. The city is sure, where I am not And I wait, uncertain, for a train in the dark.
Luxembourg John Armstrong (On leaving Paris, December 2017.) Morning never breaks all at once. When you’re awake, alive, your mind fired by black coffee and your face open to the winter air, morning seems to rise out of the earth all around you. It lifts the trees and cars and buildings out of the shadows on a cresting wave, on a single rising note. A silent crescendo of birdsong and light. Black to grey to gold to blinding white. My sleep had been shallow, troubled by visions of the journey ahead. I would take the RER B from the Luxembourg Gardens to Charles De Gaulle airport. I would make my way through the terminal, being careful not to lose myself, dragging my suitcase behind me on its one broken wheel. Then I would be carried home through the air. I had done it all before, a few months ago, in reverse. It wasn’t the prospect of the journey that disturbed my sleep. It was the thought of leaving. My bedclothes held me down and wrapped me round like bandages. My semi-conscious mind persuaded me that I was better off staying motionless, mummifying. It’s funny how the impulse to stay in bed and cling to comfort persists, even after you’ve packed your entire life into a suitcase and dragged it behind you for hundreds of miles, even after you’ve told yourself again and again that forward momentum is everything. I think I’d be content living in a comfortable present forever. The past is fragmented and insubstantial, like scraps of cloth.You can try to gather them together into a patchwork quilt but they will never keep you warm enough. The future is a stranger in a black cloak on the road up ahead.
The present is what you know to be habitable and endurable. A warm bed. That’s all. My present was a seven foot by eleven foot room on the third floor of the Centre Culturel Irlandais, a converted urban monastery hiding behind a gigantic blue door at the endIt was a room that was now empty of all trace of me, just as I had found it. A space that had first met me with indifference now just looked forlorn: shelves empty of books and hangers without clothes. The night before I had stood in one corner and taken a picture with my phone for posterity. ‘I was here.’ My suitcase had taken up half the frame. The Irish Cultural Centre had been a home, not because it was an image of my homeland gilded with Parisian architecture, like Barry’s Gold Blend served in a champagne flute, but because it had a winding staircase made of dark wood that creaked under bare feet, an open courtyard where you could sit in the sun or the shade, and a narrow bed to sleep in. As my mind shook off the last scraps of sleep, I realised all at once that it was time to go. I skirted the chasm of unconsciousness and made it as far as the shower. I cracked the bathroom window to let the steam escape into the 6am winter darkness. I put on my last set of clean clothes and descended to the common room where the coffee urn was already waiting for me. I hadn’t been a coffee drinker before I arrived, but 8am classes taught in cascading French demanded a certain supply of surplus concentration. Now I relished the sensation of a rubber band being twisted behind my eyes, storing latent energy, ready to spin out. Back in the room, I stood in the corner for a little while, just looking, as if a few more moments of intense concentration would crystallise the space in my mind forever.
I made my way down the creaking staircase carrying my luggage aloft (there was an elevator, but I felt it was only right to go out the way I had come in), left my room key at the unmanned reception desk, took one last look out into the gravel courtyard and slipped out the front door. It felt like I was sneaking away, like I was leaving without saying goodbye. But I had already said my goodbyes, already wished friends a merry Christmas, promised to see them soon. Everybody else had already left. Last one out, don’t forget to lock the door and hit the lights. But that was precisely the source of my discomfort. The lights were just coming on, the sun just beginning to climb the side of the bell tower in the near distance, preparing to ring the brilliant, ascending note of morning. My suitcase trundled and protested over the cobbles of the Rue Clotaire, but found relief on the downward slope of the Rue Soufflot. I was afraid that it wouldn’t be going much further on that broken wheel, that this could be its final voyage. The Eiffel Tower, normally visible over the rooftops, was obscured by cloud. I moved briskly, my winter coat gathered around me. If I had allowed myself I could have stood around all day, saying goodbye to every lamppost and shopfront and parked car. I kept myself moving, taking in what I could as I went. As I approached the metro station, I thought about the day I first arrived in Paris. How I had emerged from that same station into a golden September evening, lugging my suitcase up the concrete steps in both hands. My suitcase full of all the things that I needed. It was inconceivable to me that they all fit. I remembered my mother’s arms around me, wishing her son good luck, come home, don’t forget. My father had driven me to the airport. I had slept on the way. Suddenly the prospect of being homeward bound didn’t seem quite so bad.
Just as I was about to descend into the station I decided that I had time for one more goodbye. I crossed the street, slipped between black iron bars and found myself all at once in a clearing, in the Luxembourg Gardens. The gardens were my favourite place in Paris. On Sunday mornings I would join the herds of Parisian joggers on the rough circuit around their periphery. At first I had felt out of place, but I soon took note of the old men jogging in blue jeans and the children kitted out with sweatbands and pedometers. The pale knees of a young Irishman suddenly didn’t seem quite so ridiculous. On brisk winter evenings I would meet a friend or two and listen to the carollers intoning hymns I didn’t recognise. The benches and fountains of these gardens had been solitude for a few months. I thought about how different the Luxembourg Gardens were to anything I had experienced at home. Instead of trees and flower beds there are lonely monuments to figures long gone. Instead of grass underfoot there are wide tracts of gravel that deny a firm foothold and urge you forward.You couldn’t sprawl there, not like on the lawns of Stephen’s Green. The gravel seemed to be tiny fragments of something much larger, crunching and colliding underfoot, as if statues shed their skin like trees in autumn. I thought about how these fragments must erode and get displaced over time, kicked by joggers and hidden in the pockets of small children. I thought about how you could never rearrange them to be exactly how you found them under your feet on those blinding mornings long past. I gave myself five minutes to linger, to allow the place to crystallise, to feel the morning breaking all around me, the winter sun just beginning to make its presence felt. Then I turned and departed, slipping back through the bars and out.
One day that stranger on the road will turn to greet you. Maybe they will invite you to take shelter under their cloak.You might tear off a fragment of the cloth and keep it in your pocket. But for now you must allow the shepherdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tone to spur you on towards morning. Away from home. Towards home.
The H in the Hollywood Sign Maggie Larson We used to sit in darkened rooms and watch her. Her satin lips and velvet voice charmed us, drew us into the world on the big screen. In those days we didn’t understand her. We saw the way her mouth creased with a smile and heard her sigh and we thought we knew everything. She was beautiful. She was so lovely we wanted to just eat her up. It was a terrible tragedy. They shouted it from newspaper headlines. Dead in Hollywood, dead in Hollywood! – young – beautiful – life – cut short – snuffed out. Tragedy, tragedy. It was a horrible way to go, we all agreed – so sudden, in that car wreck – or was it a plane crash? Or an accident, or by the hand of a scorned lover, or a fall from the H in the Hollywood sign? (The specifics aren’t so important anymore.) Tragedy, tragedy, so young! We read about it in the papers. The inquest, the post-mortum, the players in the drama. They sliced her open to look around inside. They disected her last hours, with surgical precision laid out the alibis and the facts of the case. Where had she been – who was she with – ? The cast of characters were drawn with bold lines of prose in the Hollywood Observer. We read it all, eating up every dreadful detail and macabre suggestion. We were hungry for it. We wanted to know it all – to know her last thoughts, those last days, before that awful tragedy (it was really grotesque, the way it happened, with blood all over) – life cut short, a film stopped on a single frame.
What happens when you die in Hollywood? There were pictures, and newspaper articles, and books by friends and acquaintances and old boyfriends. We swallowed it all. Pages and pages of photos – film stills, photoshoots, candids, childhood Christmas photo albums – we chewed them up and swallowed the cold paper and ink but it was never enough to satisfy. We wanted more. We wanted to know her – she was so beautiful – wanted to examine her like a collector’s butterfly, to be studied, to be inspected, disected, and then, maybe, eventually, we’d really understand. When you die in Hollywood do you die in real life? She was frozen in the smiling photos they printed in the evening paper. Satin lips and dark eyes behind glass, suspended in resin – so young, and beautiful, and never getting older, her face never fading, never growing or changing, nothing new for us to know, so we could understand her completely, catalogue her insides and her dreams and then really, fully, know her. Now they package her for consumption – the articles, the books by old boyfriends, the radio shows and TV specials. They process her and reformulate her into bite-size pieces. And now we understand her. And hungrily, greedily, we eat her up. Every bite.
Bluelight Aisling Kearney I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together… Mary Shelley Yuuko has a faraway look to her eyes, the blue of distant hills. Dawn-todusk strolls and stargazing measures her time. One day, her father pushes a pale dagger into her hands. “You’ve seen the men practising,” he said, “You know what you could be up against.” Her father doesn’t know much about blades, nor books and paintings and silverware. He was strange like that, possessing desirable things without appreciating their value. Yuuko looks at the blade absently. The metal was embellished with intricate swirls, its rounded hilt decorated like a hedgehog, breathtaking in its beauty as well as action. “Thank you,” says Yuuko. Politeness is the bedrock of their relationship. It keeps matters stable. Easier to control. There are summons instead of shouts when meals are ready or a member of the household is needed. The weather is closely observed and quick exits solve the silences born from the absence of intimacy. Her father leaves her quarters with a reminder to dress nicely for dinner. White. She knows that means certain men will be there.Yuuko feels frightened and the fear joins her growing collection of sharp objects. Her world is a world of rules and etiquette, simpering niceties and nurturing alliances. At arm’s length is the standard operating procedure, but these men, however, are not interested in keeping Yuuko faraway.
She spends hours with the dinner guests in her mind before they arrive. Her servants come into her room shortly after her father leaves so that together, they and Yuuko can craft the image of a lord’s daughter. Her hair is washed with rose and jasmine oils, bound tightly in the rarest silk. A dress is chosen, white as a clean plate, just as her father had requested. After that, decisions about Yuuko’s appearance and attire are filtered through the tastes of all the men who would look at her. Does Lord Sinclair like the colour red? Lord Musashi likes her eyes, we should use brown eyeshadow to draw his attention to them. Yuuko chooses her favourite lapis lazuli earrings. It is the only part of her outfit she likes. Pipe smoke and cologne trail behind the dinner guests as they enter the dining hall where Yuuko waits to receive them. She knows she looks beautiful with her soft hands and clear skin, just as her father wants them to see her; she is a symbol of wealth, a victor of chance, and her appearance reflects it accordingly.Yuuko has met these men many times before. She does not need to shape their perception but carefully operate within its confines. “Radiant as always,” congratulates Lord Sinclair. A smile fits easily on Yuuko’s face, hours of practise and casual male instruction moulding her lips into the correct shape. Imagination makes the smile appear natural: she thinks of dipping her feet in fresh springwater and horse riding and if it would be more painful to stab Lord Sinclair’s throat or eyes? “You put my wife to shame,” he laughs. The throat, thinks Yuuko. To put my smile to shame. She thanks him and allows the rest of the party to comment on her appearance.
5 Plays about Hams Colm Higgins HAM ONE AN EMPTY STAGE. ENTER BLAND JOE AND EMMA. THEY BURST ONSTAGE, AND EMMA FALLS DOWN. EMMA: I hate it here. BLAND JOE: Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the best place. EMMA: I still hate it. BLAND JOE: But it is the best. EMMA: But it smells. BLAND JOE: Only in the corners. EMMA: There are no carpets. BLAND JOE: (LOOKS AROUND AT THE FLOOR) We do not need carpets. EMMA: I like to have at least one carpet. BLAND JOE: There is no need. EMMA: (PAUSE) I love you. BLAND JOE: I love hams. EMMA: I really love you. BLAND JOE: I love hams. (PAUSE) Do you really love me? EMMA: I really love you. BLAND JOE: I only love hams.
HAM TWO ROSIE SITS ON THE FLOOR, SURROUNDED BY EVERYONE ELSE. ROSIE: I had hams in the evening. I could not have hams after that. ALF: A bad ham. ROSIE: A good ham. ALF: A good ham, but a bad ham. ROSIE: A good ham. ALF: A good ham, (TO THE OTHERS) but a bad ham. ROSIE: The kind of ham that changes all the other hams, that would make you wish you never had hams at all. ALF: It is better to have hams than none at all. ROSIE: I wish I’d never had hams. ALF: She wishes she’d never had hams. ROSIE: I do. I wish I’d never had hams. ALF: She wishes she’d never had hams. BILL: (PAUSE) How sad. HAM THREE EVE, PROCTOR,BILL AND ROSIE ARE SEATED ON CHAIRS. EVE: I haven’t had hams in twelve days. PROCTOR: I haven’t had hams in a month. ROSIE: I had hams all night long. BILL: I had hams on the train. ENTER BLAND JOE, EMMA, ALF, BOB, AND PETE. THEY STAND BEHIND THE CHAIRS. BLAND JOE: I had hams in the bath. EMMA: I had hams in the ham house.
ALF: I had hams in the hams. BOB: I have a continuous supply of hams. PETE: I have automatic hams. HAM FOUR ROSIE SITS ON THE FLOOR, SURROUNDED BY EVERYONE ELSE. ROSIE: I hate hams. ALF: We all hate you. HAM FIVE EMMA AND BLAND JOE. EMMA: I still love you. BLAND JOE: I know. EMMA: I still love you, even though you love hams. BLAND JOE: I do love hams. EMMA: I love you partly because you love hams. BLAND JOE: I love hams, sometimes it is terrible. EMMA: You are like a brother to me, but more than that. BLAND JOES: Like a ham? EMMA: Yes, like a ham. (PAUSE) I sometimes think about hams. BLAND JOE: Really? Hams? EMMA: Yes, hams. BLAND JOE: I love you a little, (PAUSE) but so much less than I love hams.
Rejoice for Spring has come Niall Larkin The sun reborn in vernal array lights the world anew, The clouds set sail with news of spring’s arrival And buds burst forth like horses loosed from their bridle, From dell to wold the flora can no longer be subdued As the brave crocus peaks its head and leads the retinue, Animals too, freed of Demeter’s despair, are no longer idle And birds raise their clarions to sing their recital Of winter’s defeat and the mirth which is to ensue: Away foul frost, no longer do you reign over the fecund field, Our once slumbering sun has tired of your ill residency And with your banishment shall the lost moors be revealed, Ready to yield the bounty of sown seeds without hesitancy, Lo, how the florets drink dew in the blooming weald, The beauty of their unfolding forces winter to retreat penitently.
Yellow Flowers Ian Macartney If Marie sees the yellow flower, she will die. She knows this; she is certain of her truth. Always was. It first appeared in a dream. The trumpeted heads were bright, the kind found only in spring, sevenfold, hanging from the extended blade of its stem at irregular intervals. It slashed the air, puppeteered by the breeze. Beautiful, really, in that unconscious instant, but she could see the sky was dropping to orange in the background – dusk. Or was the orange rising? The uncertainty woke her. Lying inert and to her side, Marie wondered what the flower meant until, with an anxious jolt, the revelation hit her: it was the last thing she would ever see. And that was that – her thoughts tumbled into dark possibilities. No easy going back from that. Maybe it would come by strangulation from a supposed friend, taking her out on a hiking trip, far from help. That would explain the closeup. Maybe it would be anaphylactic shock, far from signal or ambulance helicopter, retching and swelling on the dirt, staring at this plant, its tranquillity a senseless laugh, seven heads to her face. Maybe she would have been on her last day of wandering, after an apocalypse, where she just collapsed because of cancer. That would explain the yellow glare: radioactivity. And the significance of seven; Revelations and all that. The bedsheets began to itch. This is why Marie decided to not go out much – to delay the reach of her life. Because for all her pathetic analysis she knew this moment, the moment of the yellow flower, would come right when she dropped her guard, when she was awash in embarrassing joy,
completely un-self-consciousness. Hence the mistake, hence the death, the blur of yellow on green on solar flame licking the sky. But out she was, by some lethal miracle, sitting in the Luas, exposed to the sunlight, all of her body visible (the welts, the hives, painful braille over her palm). Paler than a pastel yellow, Marie thought, darkly, glancing at her window reflection. She avoided gazing out too much, in case an ambush came from out the window. A mash of daffodils, or dandelions congealed into a brittle gold, dirty spikes of a sunflower, decayed clumps held by one brittle black stalk. The second an image came by she knew she wouldn’t let it past. It would stick with her, cling on, until she discerned its soul, interpreted it correctly - a rose lodged in her brain. There were close encounters - a crowd in bright-yellow anoraks, the Viking Splash bananas zooming by – but otherwise Marie was safe. She began to daydream of a third Luas route.Yellow Line. A gaudy slash across the city, northeast to southwest, or vice versa, bleeding the centre of its public. And she imagined it filled with flower sellers, a never-ending mass of them, a jocund company of mockers, all vying to stuff her nose and ears and mouth with yellow flowers. She trembled with her wandering thoughts, confused as a cloud. When would she get home? Travelling to Dublin’s heart was torturous enough, but the return, the return seemed worse. Marie tried to reminder herself, repeating, like a mantra, that this is Red, this is Red, this is Red. The Yellow Line did not exist. She knew this (her panic began to slightly numb). But did she feel said truth (it ebbed like an in internal bruise)? She had to travel to Dublin’s heart for her first appointment. Marie had been in the waiting room, dreading the sight of a yellow flower in a gauche vase, sat to the side of the then-faceless therapist,
tapping her pen against the a wad of lined paper. But it was fine. There were no vases, just mugs of herbal tea. But what if the tea was made from a yellow flower? Like dandelion, or something? Was that a thing, tea made from dandelion, the dark fragrant juice squeezed and boiled out of the lifeless shell and husk of a yellow flower? Would it be waiting for her there, the shredded lip of a petal puckered in the steam? Ah, the friendly therapist told her, smiling, no. Just green. The Luas stopped. Her destination – the safe red line, an exposed vein on the top of the council sign. Marie rushed out into the city. The flower of her world was nowhere to be seen. The yellow flower had not appeared. It was never going to appear. And, let’s be honest, even if it did, the effect on Marie’s life would be minimal. She sighed, free from the sight and presence of yellow flowers, the risk of it. Marie was ready to wallow in the absence of it all. Walking between her stop and home she thought - like it was the imprint of a leaf pressed hard to celluloid by her manic hand - of yellow flowers.
Haikus of Trinity Sally Anne McCarthy The dancing sunlight Celebrates its wild freedom. View from Ussher 4. ----College means switching Between two bottomless moods: Quiet despair and brunch. ----I could love myself, Be kinder, as I deserve. But, like, haiku vibes. ----Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll study harder Next year. So promises the 4th year to herself. -----
Trinity’s tall walls, Its odd, well-shielded bubble… I’m so scared to leave.
Ode to A Sidewalk Claire Stalhuth I was told as a child youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d someday end a place a concrete cliff marking the end of man But I like to think your white concrete, too virtuous, will span forever city blocks into oceans tidy, unobtrusive cement winding into forests giving path for man and beast You are the road most traveled for you are trusted You have history how many children skinned their knees on your sandpaper how many training wheels have you seen lifted You prove the resilience of buttercups, dandelions, weeds pushing through your cracks
past ants suckling sugar cubes I beg you never end, dear sidewalk show us the way
Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted Todd Pender I want to wear a suit Of chainmail made from Barbed wire. At least then When you try to Touch me Without asking why I am wearing Armour We will both Bleed.
What’s in a Name? Todd Pender Strictly speaking, Taxonomically, objectively, Doves and pigeons are one and the same. Broadly speaking, Culturally, subjectively They’re not. See, they have different names Different roles, different parts to play. Is a dove just a pigeon Dressed up in white feathers? No. Functionally, they are not the same Although the only noticeable differences Are the shapes our mouths make. A dove is a dove, And a pigeon a pigeon. Strictly speaking, Tangibly, objectively, She and I are one and the same. Individually speaking, Personally, subjectively, We’re not. See, we have different names Different goals, different lives. Am I just her Hidden in ripped jeans and a men’s sweater?
No. Fundamentally, we are not the same Although the only noticeable differences Are the shapes your mouth makes. I am me, And she doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exist.
SALT WATER TAFFY Martina Giambianco My love smells like the sea His curls are waves of long, sandy shores Softly embracing the blue landscape of the water Which reflects the light iris upon his golden locks Like the sun when, with its rays, it kisses the deep ocean Deep, deep, like my love, When I am wrapped up in his t-shirt He smells like the sea.
Athena concealing Ithaca from Ulysses Elliot Mills My days are numbered, my life has a number. I am nothing, and so the first number I am given is a zero, then I am told that the numbers go on, but I no longer care enough to take note of what they might mean. They are written on a ticket, a hollow assurance that you will answer me, a reminder that you have not answered me. That feeling of separation still cuts through me to this very day, and I cannot but inexorably recall that I have been left alone. Knowing that I will never be able to hear the voice which vowed to serve as my soulâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guardian, and knowing, in turn, that my voice too will never be heardâ&#x20AC;Śit is nearly enough to make me give up, though giving up would be the same as continuing to try, each response leading to an equal outcome, promising no response. I exist as a shadow, watching you leave, watching you turn away slowly and head off into the distance, like the bow of a great ship, cutting a track through the mists of the sea, on a journey which we all silently and fearfully know does not have a return route. And so it has been for forty-five years, with the passing of each day since I called for you a fresh reminder that my speech still hangs in the air, taking a part of me with it, never to reappear and never to find its way to the solid earth. Within the days, there are foolish moments, seconds perhaps, where the hope of hearing a voice in the distance develops into a delusional certainty that my sense of abandonment will finally be lifted. But then the force of reality once more strikes me, breaking through those pointless imaginings, leaving me in my perpetual state of solitude again. The words that left me were formed in order that they may be heard, but the knowledge that they will never
be heard has turned them into something ghostly, an undead non-existence of a thing. I now find myself doubting myself, trying to look back through time and asking myself whether I really uttered anything at all, so long ago was the supposed instant of communication that these doubts which creep insidiously into my thoughts begin to construct their own story. Such doubts are the making of my mind, which is forever more a lonely child. I have enough time in this suspended state to turn logic on its head and propose that maybe it was my fault all along. Maybe the fault lies always with the speaker, whose words did not demand that their message be heard, rather than the receiver of the words, the distant potential interlocutor, whose ears and eyes and mouth will only process that which has clearly and convincingly asked them to attend to its presence. Was the message lost? I ask myself this, too. I tell myself that you dropped into the deep cracks of the unforgiving earth, vanishing into the fault lines, divisions which were not initially known to me but which made themselves known as soon as I tried to reach across the vast expanses, naively thinking that you would come to me and help me. But I wait. As I have done for the majority of my life. As it feels I have always done. There is nothing else to do but wait, half mourning my loss, half embracing the blurry memory of departure. My questions, simple as they were, continue to grow in complexity, with every year that they remain unanswered. Like pissing into the wind, it really is.
Note from the author: In case I am being a bit too obscure, I should say that I am talking about my experience of sending an email to the TCD Academic Registry.
Looking out my Window Sarah Armstrong I don’t do anything anymore. Small things like leaving my room seem futile. Like the anecdotes of the elderly, life repeats itself; life is a continuous cycle. As time marches on with the slow methodical plodding of the indifferent, we are forced to sprint in pursuit of it. There is no escape, no refund, nothing; nothing but the overwhelming, expansive world. Nothing but the world that seemed to terrifying to deal with. “So don’t look at the world in its daunting entirety,” my counsellor would say, “Take a small part of it. Look at that and nothing else.” So, that’s what I did. As time insisted on passing, I would sit and I’d stare out my window. There is a tree that I like to watch. It’s a tree with a life of its own, as vivid and real as any of ours. I focus on the tree. Sometimes the tree is lonely. It has few leaves and it trembles limply in the wind. The weeds in the ground cover the bottom of it, as if they are trying to keep it warm, or keep it company. As the tree responds to being lonely by growing ever taller, I focus on it. I watch it. I think it’s trying to reach for something, like it wants something. It is a like a noble statue, and a lively child all at once; something that is buzzing with energy, that cannot use it, except in small, stilted movements towards its aim. It watches the birds flirt with the butterflies and the bees, and it remains alone. But when it rains the tree is happy. The tree and the rain have always had a strange relationship; the tree wants the rain to come back, when the rain falls the tree doesn’t
tremble anymore, it dances! Oh, how it dances! The rainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s droplets make it glisten with life. But no matter how well the tree dances, no matter how many leaves and beautiful flowers it grows, the rain with always leave the tree, knowing that the tree cannot chase it, but can only reach up slowly with an ancient aching as if to say, please, my dear, come back to me. Because rain is the physical manifestation of pain and sorrow- and sorrow never cares. Just like people. Exactly like people. And yet everyday, as I watch it the tree keeps trying to dance. As I sit by my window, I wonder if today the tree will dance or tremble.